Bella Rum


I’ve taken a nose dive into my family tree, or as H calls the process, “ancestering.” “Are you in there ancestering again?” He poked fun at me for a day or so, and then he was bitten by the bug, too. We’re both doing our trees. So far, we’ve found a woman who delivered five babies over seven years and died at a young age, leaving all five babies motherless, a couple who died on the same day from “severe influenza” and were buried on the same day, and two suicides – one in each of our families. One was a male. His death certificate read “gunshot to the brain” and the other was a “gunshot to the chest.” The latter was my cousin. She was very beautiful, wealthy and young – only forty-seven – no children.

During the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, most of my mother’s side of the family managed to eke out a living by farming. Peanuts were the big crop. Virginia still has wonderful peanuts. My father’s side of the family were watermen, teachers, machinists, carpenters, boatbuilders, etc.

Women had so many children before contraception was widely available to them. It was nothing for women to have five, six, seven, even eight children during their childbearing years and sometimes die at a young age. This doesn’t even take into account the outcome for the babies. One of my female relatives lost three babies out of eight. Though availability of contraception changed the lives of women in much of the world, reading about my ancestors made me think about how the lack of access to contraception is still an issue for women in parts of the world.

About 222 million women who want to avoid pregnancy in developing countries are not using a modern birth control method. Birth control use in developing countries has decreased the number of deaths during or around the time of pregnancy by 40% (about 270,000 deaths prevented in 2008) and could prevent 70% if the full demand for birth control were met. — Wikipedia

So that’s what I’ve been doing with my time in these waning days of summer. The weather has been hot and muggy. Staying inside with a project is not the worst thing a body could do, but I have opened the backdoor onto a couple of almost-cool mornings this week. Fall is still out there somewhere, but it’s coming. The perennial garden is looking a little worse for wear. Everything is past it’s prime, but, like a doddering old man, it still has something useful to offer if you look closely enough. It’s time to stop deadheading and just leave the seed heads on the Black-eyed Susans and Cone Flowers for the birds. We can wait another month before putting everything to bed. No need to rush. All in good time.

Staying Put or Moving On – Roots or No Roots

Are you a staying-put kind of person or a moving-on kind of person?

On Saturday, in 100 plus degrees and dense, soggy air that turned the slightest movement into an underwater sport – slow and wet – we drove up to see the kids. I’ve never been so grateful for A/C. I thought about packed-up covered wagons and sweating individualists, and how they may have carried a special treasure from a grandmother they would never see again, or other small pieces from their former lives, but mostly basic requirements for survival, trying desperately to keep a little of the old life while thirsting their way to a new one. The West never would have been settled if it were up to me. I’d still be in the East… which I am.

The kids moved to a new city (a little closer to us) and a new job for my son – with the same company. My daughter-in-law is a professional mover by now. She would make a good nomad. She can make a home wherever they land. Those kids are not of-the-earth. They have shallow, fibrous roots that spread quickly just beneath the surface and can transplant, if not easily, successfully. They are flexible; they bend when the winds demand it. That’s a requirement for many of their generation. They must live where the job is instead of finding a job where they live. It’s the nature of many careers now. I’m not built for that. I like to get comfortable, count on things, grow deep roots and stay put. They accept change, and seem to thrive. A good thing because that’s their lot.

I still visit the place I grew up. Most of the people I knew then are gone now, but the place, the river, the land never moves. It still feels solid to me. My brother, aunt and cousins still live there, and that keeps me connected. My son once took the Grand Trio back to our old neighborhood in MD where he grew up. My grands will not have one single place to return to, a single house to point to, a place where they can say, “This is where I grew up.” But they will have family; their parents and grandparents will embody home for them. They may have to rely on their own resilience, but don’t we all? Even though the place we grew up may stir our memories, our resilience ultimately springs from those who raised us and knew us and taught us, and from our own insides.

The grands were happy as clams in their new digs, proud of their rooms and curious about their treelined and yet-to-be-discovered neighborhood. And, yes, I went outside – in the heat – and watched from a lawn chair as they rode their skateboards down a long hill and trudged back up with seemingly no ill effects from the brutal heat. At what age does imperviousness to heat and cold come to an end?

We soon took a welcome reprieve to watch a “scary” movie – one of the four-year-old’s favorites. She loves scary movies. She’s so little and sweet and loves to be scared to death. She never admits to being scared, but her little fingers begin twining and untwining as the music intensifies and the action builds to the scary parts. She comes honestly by this love of getting the dickens scared out of her. I’m a lover of roller coasters and spine-tingling  books and scary movies. It’s so much fun when the part of your brain that controls fear is tweaked while another part of your brain knows there is no real danger, only perceived.  She also wanted so very much to tell me what was going to happen next. My son kept telling her not to tell me. She kept saying, “But she doesn’t know.”

Exactly! Roots or no roots, we never know what’s next. It’s all a scary, wonderful or not-so-wonderful, crazy ride. It’s everything, it’s all things, it’s all jumbled up, but one thing for sure, we don’t know what’s next.

Prevnar 13® – Mrs. Kravitz – A Marriage – The Ablation

Most of you have probably already gotten your Prevnar 13® shot. I got mine at CVS yesterday. H says we should change our wills to include CVS. He says they call us more often than the kids. It’s becoming a toss-up between CVS and the chatbots. The chatbots have more personality, but the CVS recording is somehow reassuring and dependable. It’s like choosing between the cutest kid or the dependable one who will take care of you in your old age.

” Prevnar 13® is a vaccine approved for adults 18 years of age and older for the prevention of pneumococcal pneumonia and invasive disease caused by 13 Streptococcus pneumoniae strains .” Source:

We went out to lunch yesterday. I mentioned Mrs. Kravitz, and H couldn’t remember which sitcom she was on. I’ve started begging H to play charades with me. He hates it, but he makes me laugh so hard he can’t resist. I’m a very appreciative audience. So I decided to act out the answer – Bewitched. Of course, we do this discretely. I don’t want you thinking that we’re dancing suggestively on tabletops to act out Dirty Dancing. There is none of that. So this is how it went.”

Answer: Bewitched

I did the ‘sounds like’ pulling the ear thing, and I made like I was putting a key in a door. He got it immediately and said, “key.” Yes! Then he said, “Be.” Yes! Half the job done.

Then I tried to make like I was wearing a hat. He said, “hat.” Then I made a very scary face… my witchiest witch face. He said, “Scary.” I nodded my head vigorously. He said, “Scary hat.” No! No! This went on for a few minutes. Finally, in frustration, I blurted out, “Who wears a hat and is very scary?” Excitedly and triumphantly, he yells, “Donald Trump.”  That is when I doubled over with the snort laugh.

My brother took one of his crazy-long trips, this time to California and Nevada and up to Oregon, and I don’t even know where else. But the big news is not the trip. The big news is that he got married….. wait for it…. in Vegas. Ha! Well, why not. There was no Elvis impersonator involved. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was. Elvis could only have made things better. They’ve been together for a long time, about eight years, and she’s great. So this is nothing but happy news!!

Michelle from Dr. Heartthrob’s office called yesterday to set up the ablation (10/6) and the related tests prior to it. She was very nice, but knew nothing of my leg. This confirms what I believed, the first person who talked to me about it didn’t put it in the records. I guess it’s enough that ‘I’ know that it is unrelated to the ablation, and we can forge ahead. It will be good to get this behind me. I’m very optimistic about it. I’ve heard good things.  Now I’m off to get the MRI for my back at 7:00 am. I wonder if they play charades.

Sleep Talk – Lost and Not Found – Backyard Gardening

H recorded my dream talk last night. Think Linda Blair. I did chuckle a couple of times, but I sounded possessed during most of the recording. The only clear phrases were, “Good job!” and “Ethel.” Ethel was my mother’s sister. There were a few chuckles, but mostly Linda Blair-ish groans and grunts. I don’t think it was a bad dream, but I learned that my diction isn’t as clear when I’m sleeping.

H saw a distraught elderly lady in Food Lion. She and a younger woman were talking to the manager and several cashiers. They all knew her. She was a regular at the store. She left her son’s puppy (a Shar-Pei) in her car. The window was cracked a few inches. She went into the store for a quick stop. When she returned, the puppy was gone. It turned out that her son was a doctor, and the younger woman was his assistant. The mother had called her when she realized the dog had gone missing, and the assistant came to the rescue WITHOUT informing the son first. He was blissfully clueless at that moment, but I’m sure that poor doggie was long gone. I hope better for the poor mother.😦

I think I forgot to show you the pics of the newish bed in the backyard.

the way it was when we moved inIMG_0202

using the garden hose to enlarge and define

getting fired up to do the job


ground cover comes next
a work in progress

Good Morning

I found this little guy waiting on my chair one morning this week. He was teeny tiny. Who wouldn’t want to shake those hands?IMG_1588

More Health News

I can’t believe how much I’m writing about my health lately. I don’t feel old, but I sure sound like it on this blog. So just a bit of news. My doctor’s office called with the results of the x-ray, someone who called himself Rick. Rick said that my spine is ” severely narrowed.” Soon after I talked to Rick, Felicia called to set up an appointment for an MRI at 7:00 AM on Friday. Now that’s what I call a morning appointment. Way to go, Felicia. I’ll be all x-rayed and back home by 8:30 and still have my entire day before me. That’s the way I like it.

My doctor offered pain meds for my back, but I told her I already take too much medication, and I find relief when I sit down.

After a bit of confusion, I’ve decided to communicate solely on the patient portal with Dr. Heartthrob’s office, unless otherwise necessary. Our generation still likes the personal touch, but sometimes it’s better to have a record of everything. There’s less opportunity for things to fall through the cracks. You have to be your own advocate.

More Adventures with Chatbots

The chatbots are back. I don’t like to brag, but, as Sally Field would say, “They like me. They really like me.” One called a couple of days ago to talk about my future education. When I asked what kind of vegetable was in tomato soup, she said, “That’s a question for our education consultant.” When another called about a job, I asked, “Are you a machine?” Mister Chatbot said, “Yes, this is a machine and you are talking to a real person.” Okay!!


Mosquitos can breed in a bottle cap of water.

Recipe Fail

IMG_1613H and I made a soufflé. It was pretty. You would have wanted to dive right in. We followed the instructions on the baking time, but it was not fully cooked, and it tasted terrible. Still, I had to post the pic. We’ll try again, but a different recipe next time.

Doctor Frustration

Yesterday was a frustrating day. I went to my doctor’s appointment at 2:30 pm. Don’t you hate afternoon appointments? I’m a morning person, and I like to get all unpleasantries out of the way early in the day. My doctor insisted on Medicare’s wellness exam (first time for me) so that added more time to the visit. I’m not sure why she didn’t do it on my last annual exam. That’s when it should have happened. It probably slipped through the cracks. A lot of that going around. I wanted to skip it yesterday and do it in October at my next annual checkup, but no way. She insisted. There was a little friction between us. I never like that.

I knew it was already going to be a drawn out event because I figured she would want x-rays. She did. I told her that I’d had lower back pain, and that the numbness occurred when standing and doing tasks or activities and dissipated when sitting. I told her I thought it was a nerve thing. She agreed and ordered the x-rays. Then I had to go to the x-ray place and wait some more. I didn’t get home until after 5:00 pm.


I love my cardio guy, but communicating with his office is problematic at best. His staff can’t seem to get things straight, and I talk to a different person each time. Originally cardio doc decreased blood pressure meds, said I was to keep track of BP readings, and he would increase anti-arythymic meds to get heart back in sinus rhythm when BP rose to normal levels.

Great. Sounds logical.

I did that and gave them my stats and never heard from them again. I called again and gave them more readings and reminded them of what was going on. I also told them about the leg, and they told me it had to be checked out before the ablation. Yesterday, when I got home from my Primary Care doc, there was a voice mail from cardio guy’s office and an email. My pressure is still too low. He does not want to play with my meds anymore. He recommends the ablation. So what’s knew? Nothing about getting info on the leg first. They’d forgotten about it, and I can only assume that whichever nurse I conversed with didn’t put it in the chart. All of this on a Friday afternoon. I will refresh their memory about the leg on Monday. I hope I will get x-ray results early next week. Meanwhile, my heart is still out of sinus rhythm.

If you’re still awake, that’s what happening around here.

Patio-Sitting and Less Pleasant Things

IMG_1599We had a couple of gorgeous days this week. I wait for those days during the summer. I open the backdoor every morning to check. Are you here yet? Day after day, the hot, moist air rolls over me. I close the door, slink back into the house, burrow down into the couch with my creamy coffee and watch Morning Joe in artificially cooled air. Then that morning finally arrives. If you’re patient, you will almost always get one or two in August. Among the plethora of disgustingly hot and humid days, there they are, fleeting jewels that give reprieve to the weary heart, but you must be vigilant and not allow them to slip by unnoticed. You must look for them every single day. We spent both mornings and evenings out there on the patio, days made all the more lovely because of their rarity.

I have an appointment this afternoon with my primary care doctor. The outside part of my left leg loses sensation when I stand on it for awhile. I have to find out what is causing it before my cardio guy will do the ablation. I am placing a lot of hope in the success of the ablation. This fatigue is relentless. We always learn from our experiences, don’t we? Before I experienced vertigo, I had no idea how violent it could be. Before I had a child, I had no idea how much I could love or how much I could give of myself. Same thing with fatigue. I never knew how debilitating it could be. I’m looking forward to a new lease on life… as they say. I talked to a friend whose neighbor had very successful ablation. Other’s success stories are always encouraging.

Politically speaking, this last week has been the craziest I’ve seen. It was always interesting when Dad acknowledged craziness in the world. Not much got him excited. At 96, he’d seen it all, and when he said, “People are damn crazy,” I knew people were damn crazy.

Dinner – Verdict – Phobias

Jean, one of my blogger buddies, (The Misadventures of Widowhood), mentioned her dislike of liver the other day. That’s all it took. I couldn’t stop thinking liver, liver, liver until I made it for dinner: fried chicken livers with onions and gravy over rice. That’s the way I like it. About twice a year, someone mentions liver or I simply think liver, and that’s all I can think about until I make it for dinner. Then I’m satisfied for another six months.

The Verdict
“I told my doctor that I want to live a long time, like to 100. I asked him to tell me one thing I could do to improve my chances. He said, ‘Don’t fall.'”
— Judge Judy

Do you have any irrational fears? I don’t mean natural fears: fire, heights, snakes, etc. To some extent, we’re all afraid of those things. A co-worker of mine was afraid of birds, all birds, even little parakeets in cages. Terrified! I asked why. She couldn’t explain it.

I guess most kids have some irrational fears. When I was a kid, I feared quicksand. I loved Tarzan, but I’m pretty sure he introduced me to quicksand. Never mind that quicksand had not been spotted in my neighborhood, I was convinced it was a possible fate for me. Thanks to the Space Race, for a while, I feared getting separated from my ship and floating endlessly in deep space. The thought of it made my heart race. And I’d like to thank Lloyd Bridges for my fear of being hundreds of feet under water when my tank runs out of oxygen or my hose springs a leak.

What were your childhood fears?

Puzzling – New Streets – Old Letters


We’ve started puzzling again. It’s been awhile since we’ve pulled out a puzzle. If you have a place to put it, it’s fun to keep a puzzle going. We had a table in our bedroom at the other house that was just for puzzling, but we have no such place here. We put it on the end of the kitchen table. I’m going to get a puzzle board so we can move it when company comes. The kitchen table is really a better place for it. We put a few pieces in every time we pass by it.

They paved the streets in our neighborhood. I’m not sure why. I didn’t think they needed it, but newly paved roads are nice.

I woke Tuesday morning thinking about a box of old letters. For some reason I was bent on throwing out most of them and keeping only a few – the ones from my mother. I knew I still had them because I found them a couple of years ago in the attic of the old house when we were decluttering in preparation for the move to this house. There were lots of cards and letters and some memorabilia in the box.  Except for the letters from my mother, I wasn’t interested in most of the contents, but I didn’t take the time to sort through everything before we moved.

I asked H if he would find them for me. We had easy access to the attic (stairs) in the old house, but we only have a pull-down ladder for this attic. I don’t think a trip up that ladder or spending even a short time in that Sahara Desert of an attic is a good idea for me. It turned out that he remembered putting them in a closet in one of the guest rooms when we moved here. He found them in a few minutes.  

 The letters my mother sent to me the summer I spent on the Outer Banks were still there. I even found a few that I sent to her. I will read them later. I also found some S&H Green Stamps. Remember those?IMG_1550

There were a bunch of letters from Bobby, a boy who lived up the street from me when I was growing up. He was my brother’s best friend, and he was gorgeous. I fell in love with him before I was six-years-old. I thought he was dreamy. He didn’t even know I was alive, except in relation to my brother. I wrote to him everyday when he was in Vietnam. He was homesick and happy to receive letters from back home. I read a couple of them, and he actually called me “kid.” Ouch! In one of the letters he was desperate to tell someone about his friend who had died before his eyes that day. He said he had to tell someone, but he couldn’t tell his mother – which meant that I wasn’t to tell her either. I was such a silly girl with such a silly crush. I wonder if I even understood the grief and fear he was enduring. I doubt it. He was only nineteen, a Marine. I was sixteen. I guess we all thought the world was coming apart then, too.

Heart T Har Har

Heart T Har Har

My heart is out of sinus rhythm. It’s been out for awhile. I wonder if all that vomiting and diarrhea had anything to do with it? It put a lot of stress on my body. My blood pressure and heart rate are very low – too low. I called my doctor, and he reduced my blood pressure medication by half. If my pressure goes up, he can increase my anti-arrhythmic medication to attempt to get my heart back in sinus rhythm.

I used to hear about fatigue, but I had no idea how debilitating it is. It changes everything. Over this past year, I’ve become very weak. I can only walk a short distance before I’m overcome with breathlessness, lightheadedness and weakness. It’s time to try something new. I’ve decided to get the ablation. So that’s that. First, I have to get this other stuff straight. I hate when my body doesn’t work right. I used to take it for granted. Not anymore.

Blow it Away

H bought the most fantastic thing – a new leaf blower. It’s amazing. He blows the leaves off the patio in two minutes. It’s magic. Two minutes!!

Coolin’ It

Last year, shortly after we moved into this house, the central air broke… fatally. We couldn’t get another one installed immediately, and it was hot as blue blazes outside. We bought a window unit for survival  and to keep from killing each other. Did you know that some people get very mean when they’re overheated? That’s a scientific fact.

As far as I was concerned, it was money well spent. I swore to H that when the first hot week of summer 2016 arrived, I would put the window unit up for sale on Craigslist . I know. I’ve heard all the creepy things about Craigslist, but…  Anyway, by the time summer rolled around my well-meaning pledge was long forgotten. Then I heard the warnings about the “massive dome of high pressure” that’s hovering over 26 states and producing sweltering heat. The heat index will go as high as 115º. Then I remembered! Ah ha! What better time to sell an air conditioner? I posted an ad on Craigslist yesterday and got three offers immediately. One lucky fella who said he had the cash and could pick it up within the hour won the a/c lottery. He got a great deal on a practically new a/c, and we retrieved some of our money. I felt really glad for the guy.


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