Bella Rum

Seeing Through the Superficial Stuff

I had to do labs yesterday, and we had some errands to run. We went to BJ’s (a big box store) to get parmesan cheese, and ended up with everything but parmesan cheese – two brains, zero parmesan cheese. Phrase you will often hear around here: If it’s not on the list, it’s not in the cart. Because it’s true.

I didn’t watch much of the hearing yesterday, because we were out and about, but I listened to it on the car radio. That right there goes to show you how committed to the art of self-torture I am. While H was in Hope Depot (our second home), I was in the car listening to the hearing when Patsy texted me. Here’s how it went.

Patsy: Are you watching the hearing? It’s a hoot.

Me: I’m listening in the car while H is in Home Depot. We have a crazy country right now.

Patsy: Impeach

Me: This morning, I heard a talking head say that there are mumblings among Republicans in congress about getting rid of him.

Patsy: You better erase that. Don’t want to get in trouble.

Me: When I look down at my phone, I see my reflection and a load of wrinkles around my mouth. Why didn’t you tell me? I don’t see them in the mirror. I guess because I don’t wear my glasses. (I only have readers)

Patsy: You are beautiful to me.

Me: Note to self: Don’t wear glasses.

Patsy: LOL

Me: Gotta go. H is back.

Patsy: Later Gator

It should be said here that Patsy, my longest and dearest friend, is  a conservative, and hates to talk politics. I convinced her to vote for Clinton once, and she never listened to me again after Monica. We talk only a little politics, and almost always the conversation is instigated by me. It would be more accurate to say that we talk around politics rather than about politics, but we know each other throughly, and decided a long time ago that we love each other. It’s too late to change horses now, and who would want to?

I saw/heard enough of the hearing to know that it was partisan. This is what we don’t need. We all have more in common than not. How have we gotten to this place where we see our differences first? I’m so lucky to have a friend who sees past my wrinkles and my politics. And that goes for all of you, too: all of you who are, and those who are not of my political persuasion, but choose to read the bits and pieces of my little world anyway, and somehow manage to see past our differences, straight through to the threads that bind us to a common experience. It’s a warm and good thing we do with this blogging thingie.

Another subject…

I recently dreamed that I was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. When I woke, I remembered I’d gotten a reminder to make an appointment for a mammogram in the mail a couple of weeks prior. When I originally read it, I made a mental note to make the appointment, but it promptly went wherever the parmesan cheese went. It’s comforting to know that my conscious brain and subconscious brain are all about teamwork, and that even if my conscious brain refuses to do its part, my subconscious is clicking on all cylinders. I’m off to get my mammogram later this morning. 10:30am to be exact. See how I remembered that? Huh? Huh?

Crazy like a FOX

My son called last night. We talked about family and politics. He and his wife are the only two in my family that I discuss religion or politics with. My son mentioned that he watches CNN most of the time now. “H,” however, says he watches either CNN or MSNBC, but every time I turn the other television on, it’s on FOX. He watches one of those FOX shows featuring all the legs. He claims he only watches because he likes to hear what all sides are thinking.

My niece sold her house and is moving closer to me. This makes me very happy. She’s staying with friends until she finds another house.

H bought a new lawnmower.

The handle folds down, and it sits upright for storage. Kind of cool. Our old lawnmower will not make it though another summer, but it lasted 16 years. That’s a pretty good run.~

Getting a new lawnmower is a sure sign that he’s turning his attention to the yard, and  that Jan/Feb projects are at an end until next year… for the most part.

After we hung up from talking to my son last night, I got a text from him saying that Lilou started crying after we hung up because she didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. So he took a video of her telling us goodbye, that she loved us and wanted to come see us. That one grabs you by the heart and won’t let go.

Francine

I started looking for a new hairdresser about four months ago. Until yesterday, I’d tried two. You may recall the thoroughly tattooed Julie, and the high-strung Cindy.

I met Francine yesterday. Granted, she doesn’t have the intrigue of the extremely inked Julie, or the excitement of  the slightly unhinged Cindy, but she is close to my house, and can cut hair like nobody’s business. So there is that.

It took four minutes to get to her salon and three minutes to get home. Proximity to my house has never been a huge priority when looking for a stylist, but it’s important to me now. I’m conscious of streamlining every aspect of my life nowadays. I used to find a stylist by a recommendation from a friend, or asking someone with a great cut who their stylist was, but because of my recent affinity for convenience – and refusing to give up a good cut – this time it became a bit of a treasure hunt. Back in November, I searched online for nearby salons, and chose one at random. Not the most efficient system, I admit. All things considered, I think I did pretty well: two misses and a bullseye.

And price? She’s the least expensive of all! And way less than Brooke – my original stylist –  was!

She owns the shop, she’s very nice, and she did a great job of giving me the cut in the photo on the previous post. I love it. Her husband owns a local pizzeria, which I plan to check out the next time I take a day off from my diet.

It was worth the hunt. Francine checks all my boxes!

And the Search Goes On

This is my photo today.

I’m off to get my hair cut by yet another stylist this morning. This makes the third one. I’m not that picky. I want a salon that’s close to my house, and a haircut that doesn’t look like a helmet (the first cut) or like it was cut with a butter knife (the last cut). At first I thought the last cut wasn’t too bad, but when I shampooed and blew it dry, it was rough/jagged in the back, like someone had hacked it. So, as Ronald Reagan would say, here I go again: a new salon – three minutes from my house – a new stylist, and the lowest price so far. This is becoming quite the research project.

 

Porch Pup says happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Gloucester and Old Friends

Look at those blue skies. You can tell the wind is blowing those flags.

It was about 31º yesterday but sunny, and the skies were as blue as could be, with puffy white clouds. We drove down to Gloucester. It’s a small, pretty historical town. They’re known as the daffodil capital of the world. They have a daffodil festival, but it isn’t until April 1. I’m afraid that by then all the daffodils will be gone. I guess they will sell bulbs.

We toured the town. It has a couple of shops, a handful of restaurants and a small museum that displays the history of Gloucester. We checked out two shops: one that seemed interested in stocking napkins, stationary and cards, and one that sold doggie clothing, toys, etc. and would happily take photos of your doggie or kitty on all holidays – dressed as Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc. The only other tourist-type shop we saw was an antique store, but it was closed on Wednesdays. There may be more attractions a little later in the year. There’s a park and the ruins of Rosewell Plantation, home of the Page family for over 100 years, one of the First Families of Virginia, but it doesn’t open until April 1. 

We saw daffodils. They were pretty, but they were shivering.

I have to say that I enjoyed the crisp air and sunshine. It felt good to be walking briskly outside, and believe me, we walked briskly with that wind and cold nipping at our heels. The lady at the information center recommended a soup & sandwich place for lunch, the Sweet Tooth, the food was hearty, good and hot. I got the grilled portobello mushroom sandwich and a cup of tomato bisque soup. I love tomato bisque soup. H got the shepherd’s pie, and he ate half of my sandwich. Patsy got a half sandwich and the soup.

We always enjoy being with Patsy, our friend of 48 years. We share a lifetime of friendship between us. You can’t build a lifelong friendship at this stage of life. I’m grateful to have her. We’ve done some crazy things together. She introduced me to H. There were two guys, and she got the one who liked to leave. I’m so sorry for that. He’s long gone. It was my good luck that she introduced me to the one who liked to stay, and do home improvements and garden and cook and watch television with me at night… okay, and golf, too.

It was fine that there wasn’t much to see as there will be next month because we didn’t have much time. H had called about our circuit breaker problem before we left home, and they agreed to come around 3:00pm, so we had to start home by 2:00pm. We felt lucky to get him to come out the same day we called him, but he didn’t have the part on the truck. This seems to be a permanent condition with repair men. Great guys usually come to the house (they are consistently nice men), but they never have the part on the truck, even when you tell them what the problem is before they come. He came just a little while ago and replaced the circuit breaker – no charge because he said the fault was the way they installed it when we bought the unit two years ago. I’m very glad it’s working again. It was 21º and windy last night and we’re expecting more of the same tonight. These final days of winter are determined not to give up without a fight. Spring may have to kill it with a club.

Hearty Gals

We had snow flurries yesterday and woke this morning to ice. The trees were beautiful with their fragile limbs coated in frosted crystal.

Then…

It felt cold in the house. We figured it was because it was very cold outside. The wind was blowing, and it was flurrying again, but that wasn’t it. The circuit breaker had tripped. Ah. How much warmer it gets when the heat is actually working.

Then the cable kept going out and coming back on. Humans sure do get verklempt when a couple of their “things” don’t work.

I changed the security question answers on several of our sites. I’m not usually one to blab, but if you stick bamboo sticks under my fingernails, I’ll tell you what they are (Didn’t those old WWII movies scare the bejesus out of you? I always thought I would let my country down in a millisecond if they so much as waved a bamboo stick in my direction.)

With our friend, we’re going to Gloucester tomorrow to see the daffodils, eat lunch, etc. (that is, if there are any daffodils left that haven’t shriveled up and died in this insane weather we’re having) We’ve had 80s in February and 20s in March. It’s going to be in the 30s tomorrow. Don’t be thinking I’m a tough cookie (if the bamboo sticks  didn’t convince you), because I’m not. I would have postponed until next week in a heartbeat, and just gone for lunch somewhere nearby or made lunch here, but our friend didn’t want to cancel. She said she didn’t mind the cold. Okay, superwoman. I hear ya. So I’ll find my long john shirt, and bulk up with a sweater, scarf, heavy coat, socks and mittens. We’ll have fun no matter what. Good company and lunch in a cozy place will ensure that.

Update:
Lilou, the tick queen, has produced no bullseye rash to date. She’s recovered from her nearly earth-shattering experience, and moved on with her life. Yet another example of a superwoman in my world.

Are You a Lotus-Eater by Nature

We’ve done nothing for a couple of days. I can’t tell you how seldom that happens. We usually have something going on around here or out there, but we lazed around like we were getting paid for it on Friday and yesterday. I know H will find something to do today. He’s not a lotus-eater by nature. Do you love that word? I love the look of it, the sound of it. I prefer it to lazy, unambitious, shiftless.

1 – Lotus-eater: a person who leads a life of dreamy, indolent ease, indifferent to the busy world; daydreamer.

2 – Classical Mythology: A lotus-eater is also a member of a people whom Odysseus found existing in a state of languorous forgetfulness induced by their eating of the fruit of the legendary lotus; one of the lotophagi.

(sounds like long-term care to me)

I subscribe to the dictionary.com word of the day. Fun stuff. Sometimes I know them, but not always. More often it reminds me of words I’ve known forever but never use. You know how that is. We use only a fraction of the words we know, which reminds me of how H always says, “If you got ’em, smoke ’em.” A saying left over from his Army days.

And that reminds me…

Toward the end of H’s mother’s life, I found some pretty glasses in her kitchen cabinet. I asked her why she never used them. She said, “I’m saving them.” I was young and didn’t like waiting for anything. It was out of curiosity, not wisdom, that I asked, “For what?” She pondered why. And finally said, “I don’t know.” The next time we visited, the glasses were on the table. H, who had not been privy to the conversation, said, “Nice glasses.” She said, “I got that idea from your wife. She asked what I was saving them for.”

So…

If you got ’em, smoke’ em. We’ll all be indolent lotus-eaters before too long.

De-bloomed Porch Pup and Security Questions

It’s windy. I guess it’s windy in many places. Several of my blog buddies have mentioned it. I noticed the other day that the green flowers I put in the St. Patrick’s Day Porch Pup were gone. Who knows where the wind took them.

Yesterday, we went online to check some financial stuff, and we were asked to update our security “password reset” questions. Security reset questions are the weakest link when it comes to securing your online information. First of all, the questions are awful, and if you answer them correctly, you’re leaving yourself open. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were designed to leave breadcrumbs for hackers.

This was one of our most important online activities, and the questions were pathetically feeble: in what hospital were you born, when is your anniversary, college you attended, mother’s birthday, mother’s maiden name, grandmother’s first name, etc. All appalling questions that at least some people you know could answer, or the answers could be found in a five-minute online search if you know where to look, and hackers do. There’s a plethora of information out there. To make matters worse, sites often save security questions less securely than passwords, so it’s easier for hackers to get to them.

I’ve read that you should never answer them correctly. One suggestion is to get a password generator to create an answer for each question. But here’s a little trick: think of a random silly phrase (how about “slimy donuts”) to write before your real answer, and a silly word (bumpkin) after your answer. The phrase and silly word never change (so you’ll remember it), but your real answer does. These are not my silly words. I thought them up just for you.

Example:

Question: What is your best childhood friend’s name?

Answer: slimy donuts Phillip bumpkin

Question: What is your birth month? (terrible question because it only has 12 possible answers)

Answer: slimy donuts September bumpkin

It may not be perfect, but it’s better than just giving the correct answer. Those questions are way too easy for hackers to find or figure out. At least my account required me to answer four awful questions as opposed to three. I guess that’s something.

Jean R of Misadventures of Widowhood went to a class taught by two geeks on how to manage passwords and create safe ones. Check it out.

Blue about Blues and Cuts at the EPA

After removing the catch and rebaiting the crab pot, a waterman tosses it back in the river.

The EPA could see a 25% budget cut that would include removing 3,000 staffers, and regulations for clean air and water are being dismantled. This list covers only a few things that will be cut.

  • Chesapeake Bay cleanup budget cut from $75M to $5M
  • Great Lakes cleanup project funding cut 97%
  • Greenhouse gas elimination funding cut ?
  • Water and air quality grants cut 30%

I’m not panicking yet. This is not a serious budget. It can’t be. I’m banking on congress pushing back. These issues are important to a lot of constituents. Don’t get me wrong. There will be serious cutbacks. It’s no joke, but this budget would cripple these projects and many more. Tell me they won’t do that.

Of these projects, I know the most about the delicate ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s struggling, and it’s bounty has diminished shockingly since my father was a waterman. Pollution is a huge factor. Four generations of my family have made a living from the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers connected to it. We’ve loved it, depended on it and been awed by its beauty, its bounty and its many moods. Mostly we’re grateful for it, and once you’re grateful for something, you can’t take it for granted anymore.

The scientific name for the blue crab is Callinectes sapides, which means savory beautiful swimmer, and that they are. 

Juvenile Blue Crab

A cleaned blue crab. Almost ready for the frying pan.

Juvenile blue crabs live in clumps of eel grass and widgeon grass that grow along the shores of the lower Bay. It’s the perfect haven for them. Without healthy grasses, the young and vulnerable blue crab cannot survive. The grasses are struggling, as is the blue crab. Vigilance is our duty or we could lose something that we can never reclaim.

Don’t even get me started on the Kepone incident at Hopewell, Virginia. Life Science operated only 16 months in 1974 and 1975, but what a horrible catastrophe it caused in that short time. It poisoned its employees and polluted the rivers and Bay, causing unimaginable damage to the environment. It polluted the oyster beds for years, including my father’s bed. It was a bad time for watermen. Many had to leave the river and find employment elsewhere while others were left to eke out a living. They actually closed the rivers for periods of time. No one was allowed to work. It nearly crushed an industry. Companies have to be held accountable. They will not police themselves.

I could go on forever, but I won’t. We all have our own loves and our own heartaches. This is my heartache today.

About H and His New Doctor

H’s doctor appointment was yesterday. She was pleased with him, and said that he started her day right. She told him to go forth and tell everyone he knows to reduce their carbs. Ha! AND she told him he was in “better shape” than most men younger than him. He enjoyed that. She also told him that now his numbers were better than most men his age. So! I’m feeling like I got a really good deal on a used car.

H was in “good shape” body-wise before he lost weight except for his middle. Like most men, all of his “extra” weight was in the middle. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but the best thing I ever did for him was give him Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo VHS tape (replaced by a DVD at some point) back in the late 1980s. When he was in his early forties, he started doing it four or five times a week and never stopped. It’s the “never stopped” part that’s important. If he had stopped, I doubt he’d ever be able to do it now. He also does negative pull-ups for muscle tone, and they really work. Now he’s talking about joining a gym.

I think his new doctor has gotten him “all pumped up” (said with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s accent). He had a male doctor for years, but he’s on the board at the hospital and decided to go full-time into administration. So H just started with this new doctor – in the same practice – last year. She is all about keeping him fit. I think she inspires him, and I think some of that has to do with the fact that she’s a she. 🙂 Seriously, they do have a good rapport, and seem to like each other. I’m for anything that will keep him healthy. He turns 70 in a few weeks. So the next ten years are important. Heck, all the years are important.

Note: Holy cow!!!! I searched for Tae Bo on this blog to see what I’d written about it in the past, and I cannot even tell you what I found. Okay, I’ll tell you. In a post I wrote a few years ago, I linked to a Tae Bo video. I clicked on it, assuming it was a video of Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo, but it went to a site with a disgusting video, selling things I’d never heard about. I now realize how sheltered I am. Now it’s in my brain. Can’t get that stuff out once it’s in there. Think of kittens, buttercups and fresh spring mornings. Nope. Still there. Sunday School, baby smell, puppies. Nope. Still there. Needless to say, I broke the link. I don’t want that stuff in your head. I hope none of you have ever clicked on it. I wonder how that happened? Any ideas? Can links change like that? Could I possibly have linked to that? I can’t imagine linking to something I hadn’t checked.