Bella Rum

August in the Backyard and Turning Over Another New Leaf

IMG_9903This is blooming in my backyard. I thought it might be a variety of viburnum, but I’m not so sure. Can someone help?
IMG_9892I would say that we are still in the hot and sultry dog days of summer, except the sultry part lifted for a couple of days. Yesterday was in the nineties, but the humidity slithered away for awhile. I turned the a/c off in the car, lowered the windows and opened the sunroof as I drove to CVS for H’s prescription and Food Lion for milk. You can do that when it’s in the nineties if the humidity drops. Piece of cake.

The seasons move right along, don’t they? Can it be August already?  That usual late-August smell is already detectable in the backyard, and the sun is shifting to a different angle. I find myself moving my lounge chair around to find that must-have spot of shade. I wonder about what it will look like back there in a couple of months, when the deciduous trees begin their metamorphosis. You know how you look forward to each season the first year that you’re in a new place? Everything is novel and deserves notice.

On to a less cheerful topic. Weight loss rears it’s ugly head once again. Remember when I lost twenty pounds just before we moved. I still can’t believe I did that while preparing to move and during the actual move. I stayed the course until after we moved. Summer arrived and I had visions of eating fresh, low-calorie, vitamin-packed vegetables all summer long. Well, I have, but… We also got on a bbq rib jag, and acquired an eggplant Parmesan obsession and engaged in a Parmesan–garlic-potato binge.

I haven’t gotten on a scale since we moved at the end of May. I bought a very fancy scale that I got for a song at about 75% off, but I did not have the nerve to step on it and assess the damage until a couple of days ago… at H’s urging. I was thrilled. I’ve eaten like someone hellbent on gaining a hundred pounds in two months. I only gained 4 pounds.

After a little inspiration from a couple of bloggers who are also getting back on track, I’ve finally joined, which my doctor recommended a few months ago. I’m tracking my food… every single morsel. That makes a difference. And I’ve been exercising religiously for about a week. I’ve started eating better, and I’ve lost a pound. Go, me!

Here I go again. That eggplant Parmesan was to die for.

Is it really August already?

I’m headed to the patio to drink my coffee. It’s only 68 degrees out there. Gosh!

A/C Update and a Recipe

I started drinking my coffee at 6:30 this morning. It’s after 9:00 now, and I’m still on the second half of that cup (I only drink one cup). I had a few things to do this morning… like shower, brush my teeth, and other interesting things before the A/C guys arrived. They got here at 8:00, and they’re installing it today. They originally told us there would be a two or three-week wait. It’s only been about eleven days. I’m a happy camper. In spite of the unwanted expense, we shouldn’t have to worry about A/C or heat issues for another 12 years. That’s something.

We had a terrible wind/thunderstorm last evening. It blew the ferns over, and knocked big limbs out of trees. It was interesting to stand in the kitchen and watch it roll in. I love how this house feels like it’s in the middle of a nature preserve, and the windows make it feel like we’re living in a tree house.

We went to a play at a local theater on Sunday. Our son and his wife gave me a gift certificate for my birthday last year. I can’t believe we just got around to using it. It was Neil Simon’s 1969 play, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers. What fun it was? I’m always impressed at the talent found in these small theaters. They put their hearts into it.

Here’s a tasty recipe for you: roasted potatoes drizzled in olive oil and tossed in garlic, Italian seasonings and Parmesan cheese. What could be bad about that?

IMG_9921I decreased the olive oil at the beginning of the recipe to one tablespoon (trying to reduce calories and it really doesn’t need that much), then I drizzled a little more after the first 30 minutes. If you don’t like spicy, you can omit the red pepper flakes. We like spicy! I served them with barbecued chicken that H cooked on his new grill. We loved them, and have already made them again, even though I had to heat up the oven and… well, you know… our A/C woes and all.

Italian Roasted Garlic & Parmesan Potatoes

brought to you by Cinnamon & Spice and Everything Nice

It has taken me forever to finish this post. I’ve been up and down all morning. It’s after 11:00 am.

The Bench Project

Remember when I mentioned my bench project. I couldn’t upload the “after” photo. I never figured it out, but mine is not to reason why. It decided to work today. This is the kind of project I like. It’s short and simple, and it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. The bench is not a fine piece of work, and it’s a little too tall. My feet reach the ground, but the bench presses the backs of my legs. I’m 5′ 6″. I don’t think a shorter person would be comfortable. It is, however, very sturdy, adds some interest to that spot, and doesn’t move a bit when one sits on it… no matter how many hamburgers one has eaten. I’ll make the tall people sit there.

 In BetweenIMG_9774


Poor Jud is Daid

On Friday, when I was in the middle of preparing for the kids’ visit, I started feeling hot. I told H that the AC wasn’t working. I always feel it first. If the temperature in a room rises one or two degrees, I know it. After a little reconnoitering, H checked the circuit breaker. It had tripped, and when he tried to flip it back, it would not hold. We called our AC company, and John gave us the bad news. It was dead, as in never coming back, shovel dirt over it and keep moving forward. Life is for the living, and all that.

It will be two to three weeks before they can install a new one. Three weeks?! We bought a window unit that we will sell as soon as the new one is up and running. We will recover some of our money, and someone will get a great deal. It’s well worth the price in this heat. It was 98º on Saturday and Sunday, and the humidity and air quality was horrible. There were heat and air quality advisories. My DIL told me that she comes from the land of no AC, but it’s nice to have it. I told her that I come from the land of no AC, too, but I’ve gotten used to it, and I like it.

Good news on the price of the new AC. When we first had problems with the old AC, H decided to get the  “Gold” maintenance plan because of the AC’s age. It allowed for 20% off of a new unit. So we got a reasonable price. Our next-door neighbor, Mickey, told H that theirs died last year. She said that they would like to have us over for dinner one evening. Her husband’s name is Ray.

We had a wonderful weekend. The kids had a blast. We bought a small, blow-up swimming pool at Target before they arrived, and one of those long strips of plastic that kids run, dive and slide on. They loved it. They are accustomed to a pool, but I think they liked the novelty of the little one. They played until they were exhausted, and then played some more. We also got a badminton/volley ball set. My son put it up in the front yard. They enjoyed that, too. I don’t know how they played in that heat. I think a croquet set is next. Won’t that blow their minds?

IMG_9840There was a tea party in the pool.
IMG_9852~Version 2~

And just when we thought all the fun was over, look who came to say good-bye on Sunday afternoon.

I thought the three-year-old would burst with excitement.

She loves chocolate. On Sunday morning, she managed to get H to give her some. She knows to ask him because he’s powerless to say no. When I saw her stash of silver-wrapped Kisses, I asked her how many she was going to share with me. I wish you could have seen the mixture of confusion, consideration and indecision that played across her face as she deliberated. What a dilemma. A two-year-old would probably have said, “None.” When it comes to sharing and resisting temptation, two-year-olds aren’t quite there yet. They are learning the difference between right and wrong, but they usually don’t have the maturity to resist temptation yet. When my son was two, I found him pulling every book out of the bookcase and tossing them on the floor. The entire time he was doing it, he was repeating to himself, “No, no, no.” He knew he shouldn’t do it, but he couldn’t resist the temptation.

That year between two and three makes a difference. They become more aware of others and their feelings and what is right and wrong. After a minute of painful consideration, she looked at me and said, “One. Later.” I could hardly resist laughing at her anguish. She clearly knew that she should share with me, but she just as clearly didn’t want to. I said, “Okay, later.” I never mentioned it again. Later in the day, about an hour before they left for home, she walked up to me with an unwrapped Kiss.  She said, “This is for you, Nona.” I thanked her. About five minutes later, she brought another one to me. I was impressed.

Food, Phones and Frustration

IMG_9791While we were out and about yesterday, we stopped by our favorite farmer’s stand. I bought plums, tomatoes, cucumbers, new potatoes, and an eggplant – all local and all delicious. We made eggplant parmesan for dinner with a small side of pasta and some marinated cucumbers. The eggplant was beyond delicious. It truly was. I know I have to get back on my diet, but I’m not there yet. Obviously.

H and I have arrived in the twenty-first century. We finally got smart phones yesterday. H has wanted to ditch our granny phones for ages. We finally made the time to spend a tedious (to me) hour at Verizon. I’m not such a lover of cell phones, and I seldom use them. I have to admit that it will be nice to have my books on the phone instead of taking that tablet everywhere I go. And I might like some of the apps. I can think of two already: flashlight, magnifier. Maybe now I’ll be able to read a menu in a dimly-lit restaurant. Feel free to give me tips on apps.

The kids are coming this weekend. I think I’ll make baby back ribs. They are so delicious. I’ll make a big tomato and cucumber salad (the tomatoes are so good), and maybe a vegetable tian. I have the best recipe for vegetable tian. I bet all vegetable tian recipes are good if you have fresh ingredients. How could it be otherwise?


I finished the bench yesterday. I did it early, but it sprinkled for a few minutes in the afternoon. It was such a beautiful morning: sunny, low humidity, and in the eighties, perfect for outdoor painting. No rain in the forecast. Then it rained. I have before-and-after pictures, but they won’t upload. Why? Who knows?

The Jam, the Bench and the Playa

IMG_9786I found several jars of homemade jam in the pantry a few weeks ago. A year or two ago, my cousin and a generous friend gave me a few jars from their batches: peach, raspberry, strawberry with rhubarb.  I remember eating one jar. Then, disappearing behind stacks of soup, peanut butter or beans in the pantry, or maybe exiled to the metal bookcase in the garage where we kept the overflow, I forgot about them. When I unpacked the boxes for the new pantry, they reappeared. The last time the Grand Trio was here, I unearthed them. My oldest granddaughter, refusing to try a smidgen on a piece of toast, changed her mind when I told her it was raspberry. She loves all things raspberry. I found another in the pantry, and I’ve smeared a bit of that sweet, gooey goodness on a piece of toast every morning since, sometimes with peanut butter. Oh, my!

For several days I’ve tried to weatherproof a bench on the patio. It won’t stop raining long enough. Well, that’s not quite right. It stops but then it starts again. It feels like we’re living in Florida. It rains for a while everyday. Everyday! Just enough to keep me from weatherproofing the bench. I managed to do one coat a couple of days ago, but it needs another coat. Yesterday morning was beautiful. Not a cloud in the sky. No predictions of rain. H went golfing, and I decided to put another coat on the bench. I went into the garage and got the weatherproofing, the brush, a stirring stick and a thing-a-ma-bob to open the can. I went out side, opened the can, gave it a stir, and started painting. No sooner than I’d made a couple of passes with the brush, I felt a breeze and it got dark. I stopped and looked up. The sky was covered with dark, ominous, low-hanging clouds. I grabbed everything and took it inside, and watched in frustration as big, fat raindrops fell on my bench for about ten minutes. Then it was beautiful for the rest of the day. We keep getting these rain showers. It’s so odd. We’re not supposed to get rain in July.  The showers don’t last long, but they come everyday. No thunder. No lightning. Just rain. I’d love it if I wasn’t intent on weatherproofing that bench. I’m going to try again in a few minutes.

I got my INR checked last week, and what a conversation I heard between a female patient and a male phlebotomist. The thin curtain was not a sound proof barrier in the least, not even for my poor ears. He started out by telling her about an incident with another female patient.

Phlebotomist ~ I saw a lizard peek over the top of her purse.

Patient ~ No! No!

Phlebotomist ~ Yes, ma’am. She went screaming out of the building and into the parking lot. Left her purse and everything.

Patient ~ What did you do?

Phlebotomist ~ I took the purse outside and released the poor thing. Then I gave her her purse. She was still standing beside her car. Don’t get me wrong now, I didn’t mind at all. Girlfriend was fine. Fine.

Patient ~ Then what happened?

Phlebotomist ~ She said that she had to take me to dinner for getting that thing out of her purse. And she did.

Patient ~ Where?

Phlebotomist ~ To this great restaurant. We had steaks, wine, dessert. That meal must have set her back a lot.

Patient ~ No!

Phlebotomist ~ Yes!

Phlebotomist ~ Oops!

Patient ~ What?

Phlebotomist ~ I’m going to have to stick you again.

Patient ~ No!?

Phlebotomist ~ Yes! I grabbed the wrong color tube. I have to put it in this one. It’s okay. You won’t even feel it.

Patient ~ No! I hate going to the doctor. I hate getting stuck.

Phlebotomist ~ Don’t fret now. I didn’t hurt you the first time, did I?

He goes on with his shtick while he makes another draw. Then…

Phlebotomist ~ Okay, all done.

Patient ~ Okay. Not too bad.

Phlebotomist ~ Now I have to give you my number.

Patient ~ Why?

Phlebotomist ~ Because I stuck you twice. Now I have to buy dinner for you.

Patient ~ (nervous laughter)

Phlebotomist ~ Go on now. Take it and call me. I’ll buy you a nice dinner.

Patient ~ (Not sure what to say) Okay.

When he finally came around the curtain, I told him to get the right tube. He laughed.

Affable guy, but what a playa!

Mystery Solved – AC Issues Resolved

Robert was supposed to show up between 9:00 am and 11:00 am. At noon, H called the AC company and spoke with Angela. Robert was still on another customer visit, but we were next on the list. Great. An hour later, H called again, and was told that they didn’t know where he was. Robert wasn’t answering his phone.

We eventually learned that he went to our old address. The new owners told him that we didn’t live there anymore. Instead of calling the Angela, he went to his next customer. When he originally made the appointment, H was afraid there would be some confusion, so he reminded them that we had moved and confirmed the new address, but even when you try, stuff still happens.

The new service contract and address were eventually found, and Angela tried to call Robert again. I guess she found him because Robert arrived sometime after 2:00 pm – only three hours late. I was happy that he got here at all. In spite of all the confusion, H said that Robert knew what he was doing. He wasn’t thrilled about going under the house, but he stuck with it until he solved the problem. Go, Robert!!

The relay switch was the culprit. It was stuck. The heat and AC were running simultaneously. Seriously? No wonder the bill was HUGE. And no wonder the house never felt cool enough. He disconnected the heat, and will return with a new relay switch someday…. soon… I hope.  The visit was free, no charge labor, and the part is discounted because we have a maintenance contract. All and all, not bad.

IMG_9761H after crawling under the house. I wonder how his Fitbit gave him credit for that exercise.

When it was all over, H was filthy. H said it was a close fit for Robert under the house. He had a round belly. I would hate that job. I asked H why he went under there. He said because he wanted to “see what it looked like.” This is a good example of how men and women are different. I’m perfectly happy with living my entire life without seeing what it looks like under there. I’m good.

The End

AC Aggravation

money-fly-out-window-samuiblue-freedigitalphotosH played golf yesterday, and I cleaned bathrooms, dusted and did a load of laundry. I know it sounds almost like a legitimate list, but it didn’t take all that long. H broke his pitching wedge. He hit the ball, and the head flew through the air.

We got a huge, as in HUGE, electric bill, which was a HUGE disappointment. We were hoping it would be less than the bill at our other house because this house is smaller, but… We think it’s the AC. As I mentioned before, it’s been idle for at least two years, and it’s very old. Someone is coming this morning to give it a look-see (no charge for the visit). H got the service plan because the unit is so old. He thinks it needs freon. Who knows? But it could be leaking.

We need and want to replace it immediately, but since the neighborhood next to us recently got gas, we hope we’ll have it soon. We would like to get gas heat, and replace the heat pump with a new air conditioner. We think that gas will be available before next summer. Virginia Natural Gas sent out surveys to see how much interest was out there. We filled out the form online. There was a meeting with communities in the area, but we missed that. It was just after we moved in.

My brother knows a guy (don’t you just love people who know a guy) who will give us a deal on a new AC. He always knows a guy. The best thing about living at Dad’s was that when something went awry, I just called him and he called a guy, and the guy showed up immediately no matter what time of day or night or if it was a holiday. That’s not my life experience. I call a guy and he tells me it will be three days, then he calls two hours after he’s supposed to be here to tell me his brother-in-law had a heart attack or his mother slipped in the shower, and he’ll be out in a couple of days. I exaggerate, of course, sometimes they do show up when they say they will, and this does not qualify as a bona fide emergency. The house is somewhat cool, even though, as Dad would say, I can see dollar bills flying out the windows.  If this is my biggest problem, who am I to complain? I seem to be reminding myself of that whenever the AC topic arises. But dollar bills, y’all!

So that’s my aggravation for today.

I wrote this post this morning. Just wanted to add: It’s now noon. The AC repair guy was supposed to be here between 9 and 11. It’s okay. I have nothing else planned for today. Just sayin’.


Telltale signs that your air conditioner is low on Freon:

1 – Supply ducts are blowing hot air even when your air conditioner is running and your thermostat is set to “cool”
2 – Water accumulates on the floor by your furnace due to condensation.
3 – House takes forever to cool off
4 – Air conditioner runs much longer than usual
5 – Ice quickly builds up on evaporator coils (the inside unit of a split air conditioner system)
6 – High electric bills (because the air conditioner runs so much)

How often should I have to add freon to my air conditioner?

There is no set period of time you should be adding or replacing Freon in your home’s air conditioner.

Freon should never need replacing or adding because it’s not used up like gas in your car. Your air conditioner is a “self contained system”, meaning Freon flows back and forth between the outside and inside unit, but it should never escape.

If you’re low on refrigerant, then there’s a leak somewhere in your AC system. So you should never have a professional add more refrigerant without looking for a leak. Sources: Pitzer’s, Cool Today

Dreaming of my Bladder

toiletThis morning was spent correcting addresses and phone numbers for Medicare, Anthem, SS, etc. We also changed our vacation plans from next May to this September. Just before we found this house, we made plans for a vacation in May, but all hell broke loose when the owner accepted our offer. So H changed the vacation from May 2015 to May 2016. Fine, but then we decided we wanted to go sooner. So it’s done. We’re going in September. It will be beautiful then.

I had a dream the other night that someone was chasing me with a hammer. I do not think they wanted to hang a picture for me or make a birdhouse. I had the feeling that they wanted to sink that hammer into my skull.

Last night, I had a more interesting dream. I dreamed that I was in the master bedroom in my house in Maryland, and someone gave me a pair of shorts that were for a 10-year-old boy. I squeezed into them (that’s how you know it was a dream), sucked in my stomach, and buttoned a two-button closure. Then I suddenly needed to pee. You saw that coming, didn’t you? Oh, so bad, I had to pee.

I started fumbling with the buttons, but I had a hard time sucking in my stomach enough to unbutton them. The pressure was unbelievable. My bladder was bursting, and I had a strong urge to let it go. I finally got the boy-shorts unbuttoned just as another woman appeared. She had to use the bathroom, too.  She started running for the door.

Finally success!! The shorts were unbuttoned. I made a run for it as I was pulling the pants down. I got through the bathroom door before her. When I finally looked at the toilet, a large, plastic dry cleaner bag entangled the entire seat. I was yanking my pants down with one hand and trying to remove the plastic bag with the other when H woke me. My pajama bottoms and panties were halfway down. I can’t tell you how fast I jumped out of that bed and ran for the bathroom. I barely made it.

Heart to Heart


I’m feeling better this morning. I woke about 2:30 am yesterday. My heart was doing a number: rapid beating and heaviness in the chest. The last time this happened, I went to the ER and visited with them for a few hours (to the tune of $400 out-of-pocket). Eventually everything settled down and I went home. Hopefully I won’t have that abhorrent out-of-pocket expense now that I’m on Medicare and Anthem, but who knows? So far, they can’t get it right. I received a bill and a phone message saying that I’m not covered and must pay the entire amount for my last INR. I’ve given them my new insurance information, my new address, etc, but they did not get it in the system… or something. One more thing to change/correct/follow up on.

My heart mishap lasted longer this time. It’s exhausting. These things seem to happen on holidays. I dressed the porch pup in his Independence Day garb in the morning and snapped a couple of pix for you guys. That simple act almost did me in. I came inside, crashed on the sofa, and took it easy for the rest of the day. I took an  hour-long nap around 2:00 pm and woke feeling better, finally. Everything had calmed down. I still took it easy for the rest of the day, and I feel so much better today. It’s like night and day.

I guess this is going to be a periodic happening. When I was in my twenties, I had a friend, Sarah Baker, in her seventies. She had heart issues. She was witty, irreverent, hilarious and lovely. One day, she canceled some plans that we’d made together. She was having an “episode.” It exhausted her. Now I wonder if she had the same issue. I can’t do anything when this happens. I was young and knew nothing about heart disease or malfunctions back then. Wish I was still ignorant.

H hung the curtains. I had nothing to do with it. I didn’t even stand there and tell him if things were even. They look good.

Last night, he cut up a beautiful local tomato, popped the corn-on-the-cob in the microwave, reheated the already slow-cooked ribs in the oven for a half-hour at 300º, sauced them up and put them under the broiler for five minutes. A rain storm prohibited grilling :(. Everything was to die for. I didn’t eat much, but every bite was delicious. We’ll have leftover ribs for supper tonight. He is not the same helpless man he was a couple of years ago when I had that big to-do for a couple of months. He vowed that he was going to learn to cook and he did. The man knows his way up a ladder, into a tree and around a kitchen. Just say’n.

Yesterday, when I was feeling so poorly, I promised myself to get back on track with my eating habits. I did so well during the move until we physically moved into this house. Then I went crazy with all the painting, organizing, decorating – all things that I love – and got way off track with my diet. It’s time to reel it in, and I plan to do just that… once the ribs are gone. I bought a new and very fancy scale that I haven’t had the nerve to step on yet. I saw it on the View’s “Must Have Monday” segment – a $100+ scale for $28. I’m not an impulse buyer, but I’ve been looking for a new scale.

I don’t know what I’ll do about that corn. It’s beyond delicious. I’m telling you, it’s a transformative experience. I’ll have to work the old 80-20 plan: eat healthfully 80% of the time and enjoy treating yourself 20% of the time. It’s a good way to live long-term. Moderation is golden.

As we were lying in bed last night, we heard the neighbors setting off fireworks in the cul-de-sac. I was glad for the earlier rain storm. There isn’t much on the agenda for today. I’m going to try to change some addresses online. We still have to get the address changed on our drivers’ licenses, a few credit cards, bills, etc. I already changed Amazon. The USPS will continue to deliver our mail to the new address for a year, but we’re long past the 30-day limit for our drivers’ licenses. Can you believe we let that one drop through the cracks? We’ll do it online today. I don’t need to have my car impounded. Do they really do that? Naw. Do they?


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