Bella Rum

Middle of the Night Blog Buddies

It’s the wee hours of the morning. I woke from an awful dream, kicking and screaming and finally pulling myself awake. I was a nurse and trying to get information from an elderly patient before his procedure. His son attacked me, and when I started kicking and screaming, my feet went right through him. He was not human. I woke while kicking the covers sky-high. I think it’s easy to figure out where this came from. I’m beginning to think about the ablation. It isn’t too far away now.

I started looking around for a distraction, something soothing and easy. I looked at my blog roll that I never look at anymore. It hasn’t been updated in ages because I follow my favorite blogs through my reader now. I noticed a blog that I used to visit regularly, The Writing Life, written by Oh. Some of you know her. It was like finding an old friend after a long separation. In January 2013, she suddenly disappeared from blogging, and I later learned that she died. It was so unexpected and seemingly sudden because, as far as I knew, she didn’t tell anyone. She certainly didn’t blog about it. That’s the thing about blogging after a while. You get to know people, to look forward to their perspective, and suddenly they are gone. Just like life. Sometimes you learn why and sometimes you don’t, but sometimes their blogs remain, and you can find them on a lonely night and feel the warmth of their glow again.

Then I jumped over to Marmelade Gypsy, written by Jeanie. That blog is like walking through a small, charming town on a summer day (without humidity). You cannot help but be cheered by its brightness. Jeanie travels, and she takes you along with her. She’s an artist, and she lets you peek inside the process. There’s nothing but fun over there, and it’s perfect for chasing away mean dreams and clearing away the cobwebs.

So that’s what I did tonight. Now I’m going to try to go back to bed and a dreamless sleep.

Preparing for Cooler Weather and Subtle Pleasures

When H opened the blinds this morning, I heard him say, “Fall is officially here.” Fall is here? What? What’s that? “Yep, fog is on the pasture.” And so it was, land-hugging, dusty-white billows of moist softness obscured the pasture. No matter the weather or time of year, our view never fails to please me. I feel so lucky.

When the fog lifted, I went outside to blow the patio. I can handle that blower for a few minutes, and that’s all it takes to clear our small patio of leaves and debris. Pieces of straw from making the straw man were still scattered about, and leaves galore from the wind and rain we had earlier in the week. What a mess. The backyard is wearing its usual unkempt, autumn face, too. Things are looking worse for wear. They are ready to be put to bed, but H and I are not ready yet. I beg of them a few more days, another week… or so, please stay just a while longer. Then you can rest.

H will spread the non-toxic Snake-Be-Gone soon. It worked very well during the spring and summer after our spate of snake spottings in the backyard and on the back steps. He doesn’t want them coming in the yard when it’s time for brumation. Last spring, he also found some miraculous (probably toxic) spray for the centipedes in the bathroom. It works for at least 30 days. I don’t smell it so maybe it isn’t so horrible.  We haven’t seen a single one all summer long.

I ordered several puzzles this morning – free shipping. When colder weather arrives, we really enjoy our puzzling. I hope my grandchildren will enjoy low-tech entertainment some day, but I guess it took me a while to appreciate more subtle pleasures, too, like morning fog on a pasture. I think the little one may be our only puzzler. She puts them together with H, and she warns her older siblings to be careful around her when she’s working on them. She doesn’t want her accomplishment sent asunder by horsing around. She’s the smallest one, but she doesn’t let the older ones run over her.

H gets the grandson out in the garage or blowing off the patio, etc. He always feels a sense of accomplishment when he finishes. Kids need that feeling you get when you start and finish something on you own or with a little guidance. I think that boys especially bond during an activity. They don’t want to sit and talk and make eye contact and bare their souls. They want to “do.” And if you’re careful, you will see their soul in the doing.

The New, the Latest, and Most Recently Revised Plan

low-carb-foodsLast week, H’s doctor told him that his A1C test levels (blood test that provides information about average levels of blood glucose) were almost at prediabetes levels. Quick-fast, do something NOW! Well, she didn’t say quick-fast, but you get the idea. A few weeks ago my doctor told me that I needed to lose weight, too. No surprises there. Before I left the examining room, she echoed H’s doctor’s admonition, “Less carbs.”

less carbs = weight loss = lower A1C

H was about 15 pounds over his goal. He’s lost five pounds already. Another 10 to go. As for my goal, it’s enough to say that I’ll still be working the pounds off long after H has reached his goal.

H, who exercises like it’s his religion, has been sidetracked by a number of things in recent months. I’m sure that has something to do with the weight gain. I’ve had a few start-stop moments when I started to gain control only to lose it after a few pounds. So here we go with a new plan just as all the eat-till-you-drop holidays are waving at us from the not-to-distant future.

I’ve never counted carbs, never been on a low-carb diet, never even thought about it. I am surprised at how I’m adapting. I also stopped counting calories a few years ago. I just changed my portion sizes when I went on a plan, and I’m sure my carbs reduced some because of the smaller portion sizes, but I never specifically watched carbs. I’m looking for recipes and ideas and advice. There’s a lot out there.

Proteins and veggies are the nuclear family for this plan. It isn’t difficult to work veggies into your meal. Fruits are the in-laws. You want to see them enough but not too much. Breads and pastas and sugary desserts are  the outlaws. You wouldn’t want to be caught dead with them.

It’s always about choices, isn’t it? It’s all about deciding what you can live without. Do I want a potato or some other high-carb lovely. Sure can’t have both. And what about spaghetti??? Maybe once a month??? In maintenance??? See what I mean? Choices!

So that’s our new plan. It’s working well and I feel good about it, but like Karen Carpenter said, “We’ve only just begun.” I’ll let you know in a couple of months. For now, we’re very conscious of what we’re eating, but we’ll go with the more liberal version of low-carb on maintenance (what’s maintenance). It will be interesting to see the results of our A1C levels at our upcoming appointments. Mine is next month and H’s is in December.

From Little People to Old People to Dead People

Over the past week, I thought of about twenty ideas for blogging, but I didn’t write them down. It’s been a busy week. The kids came down last weekend. We took them to a new playground/nature park. H bought a huge, styrofoam airplane that does loops when you have the tail wings going one way. When you flip them, it glides for days (not literally) to a safe landing. It was not an expensive thing and moves by catching the air/wind current (batteries unnecessary). Every kid at the park came over to play. H always knows what kids like, and most of the time it isn’t expensive. I always try to find something sturdy, something that will last, something that turns out to be more expensive, and they discard it after a few minutes. H buys things that are less expensive, won’t last forever, but will create a fun memory that will last. He has the knack.

Even though it’s a little early, the kids made the straw man for fall.
img_1678The little one helped the most. She is a strong worker and still young enough to think it’s fun to make a straw person.

The olders were interested in other things. Oh, my.

img_1694But the straw man/woman was made.img_1699

We drove down to do a little grave hunting with my aunt and to take her to lunch. Hoping to beat the hottest temps, we went to the cemeteries first, but it didn’t work. It was hot as blue blazes. This activity was so far beyond my capabilities. How could I not have known? Aunt Ruby, at 87, was hiking all over the damn place while I was half-way collapsing on strangers’ head stones. It scared H near to death and me, too. Unflappable Aunt Ruby just kept saying, “Bella Ann, I’m so sorry you’re so sick.” She would toss that out between her shouts of glee whenever she found a family member or old friend, “Mildred Harris is over here. She’s a little closer to the boxwoods than I remembered.” Between trips back to the car to cool down and rehydrate, I really did enjoy myself, and we were successful in finding a lot of relatives, but I won’t even think about another such outing until after the procedure, and until the temperatures drop. I’m thinking late October or November.

Aunt Ruby is an intrepid grave finder and bold of spirit and most of all, she’s game. My hat is off to her. We offered to take her anywhere she wished for lunch. She wanted Golden Corral. I don’t think I’d ever been to a Golden Corral. Maybe decades ago. When we walked in, she was greeted by at least four or five employees as we walked to our booth. The manager came over to talk to her before we finished our meal. They all knew her. Her daughter takes her there for lunch when she’s in town. I realized that was why she wanted to take us there; she wanted us to meet her “friends.” She doesn’t go anywhere in that town that people don’t know her, and so many of them are young people. They love her. It was a good time for all of us. She’s crazy about H and tells me that he smells good. I don’t know why I never thought about lunch instead of just visiting or seeing her at family gatherings. Lunch will become an institution.

Then we stopped by my cousin’s seafood business and talked about old family tales and such, a little family gossip, and everybody’s health, of course. Then we took Aunt Ruby to the grocery store where she knows everyone and then home. A fun day!

I think I have more to write, but I won’t punish you with an endless post.

Oh, I started a new diet. Will write about it soon.


My niece and my cousin came for lunch on Saturday. What an interesting day. They are both 52, which is about fourteen years younger than I am. I was in my niece’s life when she was growing up. I actually lived with my sister for a year when I first left home, and we continued to live in the same town while my nieces and nephews were growing up.

The opposite was true for my cousin who lived next door to me when I was still at home. She was very young when I moved away. I kept in touch with my aunt – her mother – but the truth is, she was practically a stranger when she arrived for lunch on Saturday, but family bonds bridged the distance instantly. Within minutes, we were in deep conversation about our relatives. We knew all the same relatives, but she got to know them during an entirely different period of their lives. I had moved away by then. It was fun to see them through her eyes.Ruth-Melzer-DeMaria

I particularly enjoyed hearing her talk about her relationship with one of our aunts, a Life Master Bridge player. It turned out that we both loved her when we were kids, and though many years apart, she taught both of us to play cards. I don’t know how to explain it. We barely know each other, but we intimately know all the same people. I loved being with her and hearing her perspective on our family members: the kind, the not-so-kind, the interesting, the crazy. She only lives twenty minutes away. Is that great or what?

I am still “ancestering” with great success. We dragged the old photos out so we could add photos to the profiles of as many relatives as possible. Boy is that a trip down memory lane, and to think this all began with a closet-search for old letters a few weeks ago. One thing does lead to another. Next week, I plan to go home and team up with Aunt Ruby – the mother to the same cousin – for a cemetery trek. She is the only remaining relative from that generation. She knows where all the dead bodies are buried, both literally and figuratively. She’s the one who can put flesh on the bones of my family story.

Dead people seem to be my most recent passion.


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.