Bella Rum

Shopping and Mother Nature

I was in a terrible mood yesterday morning, fit company for no one. I left the house without eating breakfast. When am I going to learn? Thank goodness for the protein bars I keep in the car. When I remembered them, I scarfed one down, and my mood changed for the better.

We went to the grocery store, the farmer’s market and Bed Bath & Beyond, three places that are spread out across the county. I usually try to plan my shopping trips a little better than that. We bought a couple of good-looking folding chairs with my 20% off coupons. When my son, DIL and the three grands are here, we  need seven chairs. My table only has six .We sold our dining room furniture before we moved. I never even gave a thought to the seating situation. One unlucky person has to use a lawn chair -usually H or my son – that’s much lower than a regular chair, and leaves them eating their meal chest high to the table. Not a swell situation.

Our hummingbirds provide endless entertainment. We have a bully who thinks the feeder belongs to him. When he’s around, he dive-bombs the less aggressive hummingbirds and chases them away. I think about putting up another feeder, but I think he would only manage to expand his territory. H spied a flying squirrel yesterday. He’s next door at the house that is still unoccupied. We call him Rocky. He’s built a comfy nest in a bluebird house. Speaking of which, we think we have a family of bluebirds. I also think that Rocky might be a girl.

Get ready for TMI. I was sitting on the toilet one morning when a long, hairy, hundred-legged creepy thing came scurrying across the floor toward me at mach speed. I’m not kidding. That thing was practically flying. I started stomping to beat the band. He went right through my feet. It was a nasty centipede. I hate those things. We use more bug spray here. Mother Nature reminds us daily that she will take over again if we aren’t vigilant.

My curtains for the guest room should be ready to pick up from the cleaners today. H will install the curtain rod, and we’ll hang a duck print and it will be finished. The new blinds went up a few days ago. Adding the finishing touches is the fun part. Next on the agenda: the kids’ room.

Painting, Locked Out and How to be a Gentleman

On Friday morning, I suggested that it would be a good day to paint the guest room. H was in the right mood so we started around 9:00 am. It isn’t a large room, and by 3:00 pm we had cut in two coats and rolled on one coat. H rolled on the second coat yesterday morning. Done! It looks fresh and clean. I think that’s why I like painting so much. The color wasn’t a big surprise. We used the same beige that we painted the living room and “master” bedroom.

By the way, when looking at floor plans before we moved, I noticed that “owner’s suite” or  “owner’s bedroom” were written in the place where “master bedroom”  would have previously appeared. I was curious. After a little Google search, I learned that some real estate developers no longer use the term “master bedroom.” The feeling is that there are negative connotations attached to “master bedroom,” both gender-wise and historically. Have you heard this? I understood the historical connection the first time I saw it, but I never thought about the gender aspect. Was I supposed to be offended? I have to get better at this.

Have you heard about the resurgence of the terms microaggression or trigger warnings on college campuses? According to The Atlantic article The Coddling of the American Mind:

“Two terms have risen quickly from obscurity into common campus parlance. Microaggressions are small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless. For example, by some campus guidelines, it is a microaggression to ask an Asian American or Latino American “Where were you born?,” because this implies that he or she is not a real American. Trigger warnings are alerts that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause a strong emotional response. For example, some students have called for warnings that Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart describes racial violence and that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby portrays misogyny and physical abuse, so that students who have been previously victimized by racism or domestic violence can choose to avoid these works, which they believe might “trigger” a recurrence of past trauma.”

When I saw the interview on television about this article, the example of microaggression was: “The most qualified person won.” This statement is a microaggression because it implies that those who lost were not qualified.

I’m reminded of a quote that has been attributed to Oscar Wild but did not originate with him: A gentleman is a man who never gives offense unintentionally.” Key word: unintentionally. Meaning that a gentleman pays attention to his words, and if he insults you, you can be sure it was intentional. I am definitely not a gentleman. I only offend unintentionally. My heart is right, but my mouth has my foot in it too often. I can’t keep up. There’s a new language out there, and I’m slow on the uptake, as are many of us. My new neighbors are of Asian decent. I’m not sure where their parents were born, and I had planned to ask. I guess I’ll just wander in ignorance.

On to something else.

We went out on the patio to have our coffee yesterday morning. When we decided to go back inside, the door was locked. Just so you know, I was wearing my pajamas. I always have my coffee out there in my pajamas. It’s very private, but I think we’ve established before on this blog that I would not like to be seen in my pajamas. H started looking at windows to see if any were unlocked. I could see $200 going down the drain if we had to break one. I’m familiar with the price of a new window because we had to replace one at our old house before we moved. The window in the guest room was unlocked. He managed to get the screen off and wiggle through the window. We’ve talked many times about hiding a key outside. We won’t get locked out again: third rock to the right of the ceramic frog and a left at the second star to the right and straight on.

They should offer a class on how to be a gentleman.

Bobbles and Perennials and Weight Loss

It’s one of those days. It rains gently, then stops, then starts again. In between showers, H is breaking dirt in the backyard. We were at Home Depot for a little bobble to attach to the end of a lamp chain so it could be turned on and off more easily, and a couple of other small items. They had the prettiest perennials. Lots of perennials.IMG_0056You know what seeing perennials does to a new homeowner/gardening fancier. Even though it’s still August, we collapsed under the temptation. H was suddenly ready to get the Mantis out and break the earth for a new bed. Who am I to argue with a man who wants to start a perennial bed for me? What’s sweeter than that? There wasn’t enough sun for perennials in our last yard. I’ve always missed the beautiful bed I had in MD.

No sooner than H put the new perennials in the backyard, the bees and butterflies came a-courting. Gosh, I do love a perennial bed. I’ll be able to see it from the kitchen window.

I’m a little concerned about the black walnut tree on the other side of the fence. The roots of Black Walnut trees produce juglone, and it’s toxic to many plants: tomato, potato, azalea, mountain laurel, rhododendron. Many plants are not affected by juglone. I think I’m good to go with what I chose.

My diet is not going well – lose a pound, gain a pound, lose a pound. I exercise every morning and count every calorie I put in my mouth. It’s disheartening. I changed my goal to 1.5 pounds a week from 1 pound a week. That lowered my caloric intake. So maybe things will get moving. Meanwhile, filed under the category ‘unfair,unfair,unfair; life is monumentally unfair ,’ H lost four pounds. I guess flower-bedding burns the big calories.

My Vast Experience with Horses

IMG_0042Look who came for coffee!

I didn’t grow up with horses, although Dad did go off the rails one time and bought a horse from someone for a hundred dollars. He was impulsive like that occasionally. He built a fence around our very large backyard. I was not a horse girl, and I don’t even remember his name, but my cousin and another girl in the neighborhood liked him. The only interaction I ever had with him was when I tried to pet him and he took a tiny morsel out of my upper, inner arm. I’m sure he sensed my ambivalence. After that I gave him a wide berth. We kept him until someone, who remains anonymous to this day, complained. The “authorities” came to the house, and told Dad he had a week to get rid of him. I swear that it wasn’t me.

My only other experience with a horse, besides going to the races with Aunt Kay, was when I rode a neighborhood kid’s horse through the woods. I had no idea what I was doing. He knew that he could dow whatever he wished, and took off at a brisk gallop (or what I thought was a brisk gallop) through the woods. I saw a tree directly in front of us, and it was coming fast. In terror, I closed my eyes and leaned in what I believed to be the opposite direction of the tree, but I guess the horse changed directions because that tree smacked me with enough force to knock my behind off that horse. When I hit the ground, it knocked the breath clean out of me. While I may have been stupid about horses, I was smart enough to know that I could go the rest of my life without interacting with another one.

It’s a little ironic that I find myself living on the edge of a horse pasture.

So now I can admire their beauty while keeping a fence between. I’m still a little nervous about petting them. These horses seem very gentle and accustomed to people, but I can’t forget that placing your hand on the bridge of their noses leaves the soft flesh of your underarm exposed. Such a tasty treat, and sometimes irresistible.

A few mornings ago, it was cool, and there was a freshness in the air that you don’t usually get during the dog days. The temperature was in the sixties, and they were frisky. They pranced and galloped and played. They were full of themselves. So pretty.

I’m off to the farmer’s market this afternoon and Home Depot because they haven’t gotten enough of my money yet. They go into withdrawal if I don’t give them their drug of choice at least once a week.

Did anyone watch the debates? I fell asleep and woke around 2:00 am. They were rerunning it. I guess once just wasn’t enough. I saw the little brouhaha between Megyn spell-it-with-a-y Kelly and The Trumpster. You just can’t make this stuff up.

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!


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