Bella Rum

Image: Outer Banks, NC 9-11-11

Here, have a Snow Sandwich

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The deck and porch last night. It looks innocent enough, doesn’t it? But its slick as ice because it’s ice! The birds swarmed on those feeders yesterday morning because they knew what was coming.

Oh, yes. We have ice and snow this morning. I can hear the occasional car slowly crunching along on the icy road. It started yesterday around noon with freezing rain and sleet, then changed to sleet and snow, then to snow. Then it went in reverse. Now we have a snow sandwich with ice on the top and bottom. It isn’t that deep but it makes up for it in treacherous beauty!

I plan to go nowhere today! I’m just happy to have power. These are the kind of storms that leave you without lights and heat. I feel lucky.

Our television messed the bed – the new one the kids gave us a few months ago. It was still under warranty. We took it back to the store a couple of weeks ago, and they sent it off to Samsung’s geek squad. The geek squad sent me an email a couple of days ago. They’ve repaired it, and it’s on its way back to the store. I felt bad for the kids because I think they felt bad. It wasn’t their fault. Stuff happens. If it’s delivered to Best Buy today, we will not be trekking down there to get it, not in this mess. I wouldn’t dream of even stepping foot on all of that ice. H will get the mail. He’s the brave one here. Maybe I’ll tie a rope around his waist so I can pull him back if he falls.

Blue on Blue


Depression 1I’ve had two blue days in a row. That hasn’t happened in a long time, but the fog lifted yesterday afternoon. I’d almost forgotten what depression felt like. H presented me with a grocery list yesterday morning, and nudged me (mentally) to get up and get moving. I only wanted to pull the covers over my head and pretend he wasn’t there, but I managed to walk into the shower and let it run over me. I did not wash my hair. There was only so much energy to expend; I chose not to waste it on blow-drying my hair. Every action was like moving through Jell-O, but I have to admit that the shower felt good once I was in there.

The weather outside matched my mood. The sky was low and dark. At first, it spit raindrops here and there like it couldn’t make up its mind. Then rain fell in earnest. It was a perfect day for a two-hour afternoon nap. I felt better when I woke, not full of energy, but better. When I’m in the thick of it, every move is excruciatingly energy-draining. I always think, I’d be fine if everyone would go away and leave me alone, and don’t forget to turn the light off on your way out.

This morning, I’m more like myself. Life goes on and it’s pretty good. I did go to the grocery store yesterday and took that nap when I got home. H pulled something from the freezer last night and heated it up for supper. Always a latecomer to a good idea, I’ve finally gotten on the freeze-the-leftovers train. I’ve never been much for freezing a quart of this or a couple of those for a time when I didn’t want or feel like cooking. I’m now a devotee of the freezer trick.

I have no plans for today. I may make a run up to Chipotle for their takeout menu so we can order lunch or supper when the kids are here. The bathrooms could use a hit with a brush or sponge, and there’s always laundry.

I just remembered. We’re supposed to get 3 to 5 inches of snow and ice today. Maybe I’ll nix the Chipotle run and read instead.

The Barbecue Run

Monday, we drove down to NC for pork barbecue. It was a beautiful day, in the 40s, but the car thermometer made it up to 53º on the way home. It was such a pleasant drive, a pleasant day. We timed it so we would get there for lunch. We had barbecue sandwiches. What else? So good.

We’ve become very companionable. It makes day-trips (and everything else) much more fun. There’s less conflict, fewer things to negotiate, less stress in our lives. At this point, you only have to make sure you take your meds, pay your medical coverage on time and don’t slip in the bathroom. Until that time comes, life moves along at a steady clip.

The barbecue place is a small, counter-type restaurant. You go to the counter, place your order and wait at one of the booths with wooden benches until your order is ready, and then you go get it. They don’t do fancy. They have other things on the menu: burgers, fish sandwiches, country fried steak, catfish dinner, chicken & dumplings, etc. but I think most people get the barbecue.

There’s an area toward the back that has a couple of tables. That’s where the old men – locals – sit and jaw and drink coffee and eat barbecue. There are a couple of grocery store-type refrigerators with glass doors in that area. We reach in and get barbecue that’s sold in quart-size containers. We get two different kinds and mix them together. That’s what they sell on their sandwiches there. Good stuff. If you walk past the refrigerators and the old men, you find yourself in a much larger area that sells trinkets and souvenirs to vacationers on the way home from the Outer Banks. It’s your last chance to buy a t-shirt, fudge, sea shells, key chains, mugs, etc. We never buy anything. We’re there for the barbecue.

I don’t do whimsical. I’m not in touch with that childlike side very often and seldom indulge it. But this little guy appealed to me. He has a little keyhole hanger on the bottom so you can hang him on the wall. I’m going to hang him in the kitchen or the kids’ bathroom.IMG_9241

My grandson will probably like him. If so, my silly frog will find his way on the way home in the car with him. :) If not, he’ll live out his life with me.

A friend came for dinner last night. I made a pot roast and mashed potatoes, corn, carrots, rolls. It was delicious. I’ve started putting wine in my pot roast.

Voices from the Past


Mama & Jean013H found a box of my old letters, some love letters and some from family and friends. What a blast from the past. I couldn’t read some of them; the cursive was too small or too sloppy or too faded, so he read a few of them to me. The first one he read was from an old boyfriend. H snorted at the lousy spelling, and scorned me for nagging him all these years for his spelling. Neither of us are good spellers, but looky there, The Google came along just in the nick of time. He chuckled at the line, “I’ll shave closely when I see you again.” Oh, golly.

Then I found a small stack of letters that were tied with a piece of white lace with a green satin ribbon woven through it. I recognized it. It was the ribbon I’d worn in my hair on prom night. I recognized my mother’s handwriting. I could only read two, and it was hard to get through those. I was eighteen. After graduation, a girl friend and I had left for our summer jobs on the Outer Banks. I’d never been away from home more than a night or two. I thought I was something. I was filled with excitement and anxious to get away. My mother stood in the driveway, filled with concern about what could happen to me, and tried bravely to release her remaining but pitifully threadbare apron strings.

Forty-seven years later, her chatty letters cannot disguise how much she missed me. I was her baby. I didn’t miss her one bit. I was so glad to be away from parental eyes. She wrote about my sisters, brother, nephew, Dad and neighbors. She wrote about her days. She mentioned that ‘Daddy’ missed me or ‘Daddy’ said hello. I knew that wasn’t true. Dad didn’t give a second thought after I backed out of the driveway, but she wanted me to feel that he did. She told me that she didn’t worry about me because she knew I was a ‘good’ girl. Another sweet mother’s lie. No doubt, she worried about me every minute.

After that, I put the letters aside, but I will read more of her revealing words later, seeing things I never saw when I read them the first time, so self-involved was that eighteen-year-old girl. How I wish I could have been wiser, but that’s the way the world teaches us. What a winding road it is from there to here, and oh, how perspectives do change. Who’s missing who now?

NC BBQ and Day Trips

Seldom do I say this, but I need something to do, somewhere to go, somewhere to be. And even that is not the real problem. There’s always plenty to do and places to go, but I’d like to have a halfway decent day in which to do it.

H wants to drive over to a nearby town and eat seafood. There’s a great restaurant there. It practically sits on the water and they know seafood. Do I need this? Every time I make progress, there’s a setback. I know myself, and I know that there are certain situations that I cannot handle, and a (mostly fried) seafood restaurant is one of them. Don’t talk to me about broiled flounder, cod, shrimp, etc. And don’t even mention lobster without dipping-butter. These are culinary crimes.

I’d rather wait until I can make a celebration out of it once I lose a little more. You know, go when I hit a goal that I’ve been looking forward to, and get back on the horse the next day. I believe in going off diets (lifestyle changes) for celebrations, but I like to get a little progress under my belt… so to speak. I believe in rewarding yourself, and I don’t mean buying a new dress or purse. I mean off the charts, delicious, yummy food.

I just checked the weather, and I can’t believe it! It’s supposed to be 50 degrees and sunny on Monday. Are you kidding me? I see a road trip in my future. I don’t know about the seafood restaurant, though. H wants NC barbecue for his birthday next month. I think it would be a great idea to drive down to NC. On the way home from the Outer Banks, we always stop at a place on the side of the road that makes the best barbecue. We always buy a couple of quarts for the freezer. The distance is at the upper limits of how far we like our day trips to be, but it will be well worth it when he’s enjoying some NC BBQ on his birthday. We’ll have it when the kids come. A few of his favorite side dishes, and it will be a celebration worthy of diet busting. Life must be lived, celebrated and eaten in big, generous bites. A 68th birthday is just such an occasion… in my book.

I had no idea where I was going with this post. Looky there. I figured it out as I went along, and now I have a plan. Let’s see if H agrees?

Snow Pix and Another Boo-Boo


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That’s my kitchen sink up there. I couldn’t wait any longer for things to start sprouting, so I bought a rosemary plant a few weeks ago. It’s kind of pitiful, but it’s limping along and it’s green. That’s good enough for me.

Porch and Neighbor’s Porch

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Boy, was I surprised to see that snow yesterday. I took some pix, but I’m no intrepid reporter. As you can see, I never stepped off the porch.

Backyard

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bird feeders from upstairs window
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H’s Spinner
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Porch Pup
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H shoveled the driveway yesterday, and made a quick run to the grocery store for a few things. We’re into edamame lately. Can’t argue with that for a snack choice. We haven’t been on a full grocery shopping trip for a while, just little pick-ups here and there. I have some beautiful green bell peppers. I’d like to stuff them and eat some and freeze some. I think I’ll put them together before I go out today, and then I’ll only have to put them in the oven tonight. H can do the chopping

because….

I’m embarrassed to tell you this next thing. I cut my doggoned finger yesterday. I promise, I’ve never been one to cut myself. I’ve cooked for over 45 years and have only cut myself a few times. I burn myself on a regular basis, but that’s another story. I’m usually careful with a knife, but this was my bad. I was slicing something, and just as I thought that I shouldn’t be slicing toward my hand, the knife slipped. I couldn’t believe it.

It was my index finger, but at least it was on my left hand this time. It didn’t want to stop bleeding. I had to hold it above my head for about twenty minutes. That warfarin was working like a rented mule. Good to know.  H made a clever little splint so I wouldn’t bend it, and it worked well until I took it off this morning to type this post. It started bleeding again. As soon as I finish doing this, I’ll bandage it up again. A band-aid should work tomorrow.

If this winter lasts much longer, I’ll have nothing to write about besides injuries and food. For two people who are supposed to be dieting, we certainly are preoccupied with food. H said yesterday that he’s antsy. I’m fine being cooped up. I’m easily occupied by the computer or television or a book, but he has to get outside. I told him he’d soon be shoveling mulch instead of snow.

I’ve read a number of melancholy blog posts recently. I think this endless winter has taken a toll. It wears down a person’s resilience. It’s been cold here, but I consider us lucky because we’ve gotten some sunny days. That helps. I open all the blinds on the back of the house, and light pours in all afternoon. I hope the sun is shining wherever you are. We need that. Have a nice weekend.

Bella

A Good Day


IMG_9137It snowed during the night and it’s beautiful. We still had snow on the ground from our last snow. It’s been too cold for it to melt. This just freshened things up. The crocuses will start popping in a few weeks. I have a photo of my mother. She’s kneeling down beside her jonquils that are blooming through the snow. Let me see if I can find it for you. There it is. This photo always reminds me that no matter how hard winter tries to hold on, spring will eventually prevail.

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I had a very good day yesterday. I have a lot of those lately. It’s a good, calm time of life. It all ebbs and flows, you know, and it’s flowing right now. No whitecaps, no struggle, only a gentle flow in the right direction. I’m finally smart enough to appreciate it while it’s here.

After their last visit, I realized that I don’t have enough blankets/comforters for the grand trio. I noticed they were using H’s old army blanket,  a rough and scratchy thing, and one of them was using a blanket that the EMTs left on Dad when they brought him home from long-term care. How have I not noticed this? Have you looked at the price of kid’s comforters? I needed three! I looked online and finally decided to go to Bed Bath & Beyond and Target. I wanted three bright colors. I found them at Target: red, blue and green. And they were the right price. They only had one of each left. Done!

On to Bed Bath & Beyond and picked up a couple of things. I wanted to replace my lettuce spinner. My DIL gave it to me a few years ago and I loved it. I broke it trying to spin like H. He does it so fast. I thought I could do the same, but I broke the little thingamagig that you hold when you spin it. BB&B had lots of spinners but not the one I wanted. She found the best design. It collapses down to the size of a pie plate. Nice.

In my travels, I stopped by JCPenny. I didn’t find the comforters there, but they have some really nice curtains. I’m not in the market, but if I ever am…

I found an eye-of-round roast on sale at Martin’s and H cooked it last night. I convinced him to try a new method. Wrong move. The last two or three times he cooked eye-of-round roasts, they were delicious. They are best cooked to medium rare. They have a great taste, but you know how they can be tough and dry if you cook them too much. I found a recipe online, and had to try it. I convinced H. You preheat the oven to 500ºF, put the roast in, lower the temp to 475ºF and cook 7 minutes per pound. Then turn the over off and allow it to stay in the oven without opening the door for another 2 1/2 hours. It was overcooked. Not horrible, but not ideal. My bad.  The leftovers will make great sandwiches with a little horseradish sauce. I’m confident of this.

At least it was on sale.

Wherein Sassy Steals My Man

We’re having a heatwave. It was 10 degrees yesterday morning and 12 today. I’m walking in my bedroom with my Leslie Sansone DVD. March is coming and by the end it will be lamb-ish. I promise. But I’m not reliable.

So I’ve slept better recently. Did you ever expect to read that here? No? Well, I never expected to write it. Miracles do happen. It’s probably a phase, but I’ll take it. I did wake early this morning, but that hasn’t happened for weeks. I’ve been sleeping till anywhere between 5:00 and 6:30. Since, on average, I usually fall asleep around 10:00, well, you can do the math. Not bad, I’d say.

Last night, I did have a dream that I remember, but first, a little background. There were three sisters who helped with Dad’s care over the years. They were all good with Dad. Two of them loved him to death, but all of them had little quirks. One more so than the others. The oddest was their attraction to my husband… if you can call that a quirk. Well, at least two of them were swoon-ers. One was single – never been married – and one was married, unhappily I presume. One of them had the nerve to tell me that her sister said, “If Bella ever dies, I’m going for H.” And she was the married one! You cannot make this stuff up. I told H, “Maybe if you marry her, the two of you can move in with Dad.” He was not amused.

Okay. The dream.

I dreamed that I lived in the same neighborhood as one of the sisters, Cindy. Cindy’s younger sister, Sassy, (a fourth sister that I’ve never seen or heard about in real life, a figment) lived with Cindy for awhile and was now moving out. I went by to say goodbye and to gather some things that I had loaned Sassy while she was staying there. When I told Cindy why I was there, she said she had something to tell me, “H and Sassy had an affair.”

I was all Zen about it, not disturbed one bit. H appeared in the dream, and he felt no need to give an explanation, and I didn’t ask for one. Sassy had one of those huge, old computers that I’d loaned her. I let her keep it, but I grabbed up three ratty, old stuffed bears. I actually tried to give Sassy a goodbye hug, but she was stiff as a splintered board and refused to hug me back. What? Who’s the injured party here?

This must indicate that I cannot set boundaries, or there would have been a funeral scene in the dream… or two.

Yesterday, we made reservations for our vacation. It should be nice and warm by May. Right? I’m off to the grocery store today. Maybe a pork tenderloin to stuff with something good. Last night, I butterflied (actually not butterflied, I just sliced mine three times, but will definitely try butterflying next time) a couple of chicken breasts and pounded the heck out of them to make cutlets, and sautéed them with a little lemon, salt and pepper. Simple, fast and pretty good. I promise this will be my last chicken video……………. for a while.

Oscar

Did you watch the Oscars last night? I never watch it anymore. I record it in case something wild happens. You never know when there might be a streaker (remember that?) or a political protest or someone appears drunk or high. Remember Patty Duke? Oh, God.

There’s so much filler in the show. I can’t spend three hours watching that. I usually like to see the big awards that everyone else is interested in: best supporting, best actor, best director, best motion picture. I like the tributes to those who died and the speech of the recipient of the Honorary Award (I don’t even know who received that this year.). I like the concept of the Honorary Award. It gives the Academy a chance to atone for screwing up, a chance to give an accomplished but overlooked actor a “kiss and makeup” Oscar. Maybe they’re more coveted than the other Oscars. Maybe the recipients are more appreciative because they didn’t come by it easily.

I like Neil Patrick Harris, so I hope he did well considering the confines of the show. It’s just too long and has too much tedious business to take care of. I know all of those talented technical folks are needed, but… So I may watch the high spots later today, but I can’t do the whole thing.

We watched a show about the history of the Academy the other day. It was interesting, but I wish you could have seen us trying to remember the names of all those stars. We did better on the old ones than the current ones. It was a very long show, and after a couple of hours of trying feebly to remember Barbara Stanwyck or Greta Garbo or James Cagney, H said, “Do you think this thing is on a loop and we’re watching it over and over and can’t remember?”

Okay, so I’m not over chickens yet. Now I’m watching deboning videos. It’s a preoccupation. Have you ever seen these? They’re absorbing. I’ve never deboned a chicken, and I don’t see it in my future, but I like seeing the execution (no pun intended) of deboning.  Jacques Pépin is an artist. My son would have so much to say about this latest fixation.

Coq Au Vin


IMG_9123Jeanie gave me Ina Garten’s recipe for coq au vin. First of all, it has a lot of ingredients, but don’t despair, they are all normal things that you can readily find at the market, except for the cognac. I can already hear some of you saying, “Too much work!” H took one look at the recipe and said, “Let’s make it.” I was like, “Look at all those ingredients. And there’s chopping and cutting up of chicken and top-of-stove cooking and in-the-oven cooking and then top-of-stove cooking again!” “Wuss.”

I still have a wick, but it burns quickly, and it’s barely ignitable at night. So we did all the prep in the morning. We washed and pared the veggies, fried the bacon and even browned the chicken.

I bought a whole chicken and cut it into pieces, which was kind of fun. I hadn’t done that for awhile. Back in the day, I used to always buy the whole chicken. It was cheaper. Do you remember how cheap it was?  46¢ a pound. I looked that up, but I swear I remember getting them for 39¢ a pound and even cheaper. You could feed a family of four for less than $2.00 and even less than that when on sale. We’ll never see that again. My mother and H’s used to fry chicken every Sunday. I guess that’s Southern. Neither of them would ever have bought one that was already cut up. At some point, I must have fancied that we were rich, and started buying them already cut up – never looked back.

All that was left to do last night was add the liquids, bring it to a simmer and put it in the oven. When it was done, we added the remaining vegetables and the beurre manié (a simple and quick thickener made of butter and flour blended together), and let it simmer for ten minutes. Easy peasy.

The Verdict

It was worth the prep work. Really delicious. Will I make it again? Definitely! But I’ll do it the same way – all the prep in the morning.  Last night was a breeze. I served it with small red potatoes. I like Jeanie’s idea better, a loaf of good bread and a salad. I give it four stars. It would be five if I could do it in ten minutes. :) So good. Thanks Jeanie.

Yes, I saved the back and neck for stock. Between FoodNetwork and Martha, I’m becoming my mother. I found this tutorial this morning for anyone who has never cut up a chicken and wants to give it a try. It isn’t difficult. Really.

Edit: Oops, I forgot. I omitted the olive oil and only ate one piece of chicken.

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