Bella Rum

Image: Outer Banks, NC 9-11-11

Grand Times in the Cul-de-sac


Baby Chick Deviled Eggs with Carrot Beaks and Black Olive Eyes.

As you can see, I was not very particular about making the eyes the same size. They look slightly demented, but in-the-ball-park was good enough. The Grand Trio liked them. The Baby Grand said, “Little chick, I’m sorry to eat you.”

I noticed at one point that the Baby Grand was wearing the Porch Pup’s rabbit ears. :) He usually loses some of his costume while they’re here. They crack me up. I just wish I could have gotten a photo, but she pulled them off when she saw the camera. Like a true star, it’s in the contract that she only gives a photo op once she’s given permission. She views me as the Paparazzi.

In the comments, someone asked if there was room for the Porch Pup at the new house. It’s a smaller space at the front door, but I think he’ll fit. Otherwise, he’ll have to sit in the flowerbed next to the front steps, not the backyard. He must have his adoring public. Unlike the Baby Grand, he poses of pix as often as possible. He’s started to get his due in this neighborhood. The neighbors have started commenting on his attire around the holidays.

The Senior Grand had to do a school project. She had to choose a state and write about why they would like to visit it and give fun facts about it. She was less than thrilled about doing it. I’m so impressed with how my DIL and son handle these situations. They double team it. My DIL is persistent and more patient than I remember being. When the Senior Grand finally finished the project, she brought it downstairs to show it to us. It was great! More importantly, she was proud of herself. You can see it in the photos. That’s the stuff that builds self-esteem – accomplishment.



I always notice changes in my grands. I’m sure it’s because I don’t see them everyday. The Grand Boy (7) has a sweetness about him, and he seems like such a big man lately. So grown up. He’s an empathetic boy. It was the same with my brother. He was always more respectful of my mother than us girls. We all had our hormonal temperaments when we were teens. Teen girls can be awful to their mothers, but my brother would do things for her, bring her gifts that he bought with money he had earned from catching crabs and selling them. He never sassed her. Never. There was a sweetness in their relationship, and he still gets emotional when talking about her.

That’s it. Y’all make some of those eggs for your grands. They’ll like ‘em.

Home Inspection

Here I am again. In the middle of the night.

The process has begun. Yesterday, we did the home inspection. Was that fast? When we bought this house, I don’t remember it being so soon after our offer was accepted. We met at the new house with home inspector Chris and our Realtor. There were no major problems with the house. He did miss a couple of things that H found. That didn’t build confidence. Other than that, there were only a couple of little issues with the house (that he found) that we won’t even quibble about: the light on the stove, a drippy kitchen faucet, a window that needs caulking.

There will not be much maintenance on the outside of the new house. It’s all brick and does not have a deck or porch. I love the porch on this house, but I’m not sorry to leave the maintenance behind. I’m ready for a simple, low-maintenance patio. I took this photo yesterday. It was a gray and rainy day.IMG_9338

H will have to level it a bit. No problem. After that, it shouldn’t require much of anything. That’s the ranch behind the fence. It’s an open pasture. It looks like I’m living on Little House on the Prairie,” doesn’t it? I hope horses wander by occasionally.

It’s been thirteen years since we bought a house. So much of the paperwork can be done on the computer. Instead of signing documents in person, we authentisign them on the computer. It speeds things along.

I hope the home inspection on this house goes as smoothly. I hope a guy like Chris does it. If that happens, we’ll only have to replace a washer in the kitchen faucet and a cracked window pane in the guest bedroom. You know we have terrible luck with real estate sales. We’ve had a couple of true-life horror stories. If I ever write a thriller, a realtor and a home inspector will be the victims. I’m hoping this time will be a breeze, or at least reasonable. No divorcée sellers who throw the lockbox in the middle of the yard and declare they’ve decided not to sell, or ex husbands who cannot be found to sign on the dotted line at closing time, or home inspectors who claim that my house is listing. All of that and so much more happened when we made our last move. I wish I’d had a blog back then. That was some golden content.

For odd news in the cul-de-sac, we have the phantom garbage bag mystery. H put our trash can at the curb. It was full, but we had no extra bags that wouldn’t fit. When we left for the home inspection, he noticed that someone had opened the lid and placed a huge bag of trash on top. The lid was wide open, and there was another bag of trash on the ground beside it. H said that when he put our trash bin out, he noticed that a neighbor had a ton of bags. The sanitation workers will only take a couple of bags, so H assumed that the neighbor had put them in our bin. When H went out to retrieve the trash can, he noticed that the bags had been removed and thrown up and almost under the neighbor’s car. He thinks the sanitation workers did it. The neighbors will probably think we did it. These are fairly new neighbors that we don’t know at all.

The grands are coming this morning. H’s birthday was yesterday and we’ll celebrate tonight.

Look What We’ve Gone and Done

No need to bury the lead. We got the house! The only reason we got it was because we were the first ones to see it. There were several people who wanted to see it yesterday, but we worked things out before that could happen. Thank goodness. I had visions of a nasty bidding war, and who needs that.

By the way, that house with the fatal flaw of a steep driveway sold five days after we decided not to get it, and the other one we looked at that day sold two hours after we looked at it.

We’ve looked at houses for about a year and a half. We looked at anything that came close to meeting our needs if it had a first-floor bedroom. Our only exclusions were houses on railroad tracks, interstates, flood zones or known vampire, witches and zombie hangouts.

Do you know how many houses we looked at in all that time? Eight. To be fair, that does not include one 55+ community that we looked at on our own. That is pitiful. When we moved to MD, we looked at three times that many houses in only a few weeks. My guess is that in fifteen years there will be greater availability of one-story living. Half of the boomers will be in nursing homes, and the other half will be in urns… or underground.

We’re both excited. I woke at 2:30 with a headache, and couldn’t stop thinking about where I would hang that picture, where I would place that sideboard. Big changes up ahead.

The House

We made an offer on the house. It’s almost perfect except for one thing. Isn’t there always one blemish on a nearly perfect thing? That should be cross stitched on a pillow.

The floor plan is perfection: master bedroom at one end, living area in the center and two smaller Jack & Jill bedrooms at the other end for guests, and I can’t forget the location. The location is perfect: close to stores we frequent, our doctors and the hospital. The kitchen is not ideal. Not by any stretch of the imagination. All the appliances convey, but they are a motley crew: white fridge, black oven, microwave and dishwasher. The cabinets are not stellar, but I can live with them. The counters must go. They will hit the dust if we get that house, and the appliances will be replaced one at a time most likely. They are original to the house and will start breaking soon.

Around here, old people scarf up one-story housing like toddlers scarf up Goldfish, and they leave them one way and one way only, feet first. One assumes  that one is buying the house from the heirs. I’m always curious if the person died in the house. Not that it bothers me. I’m just curious.

I noticed a walker in the utility room. I don’t know if it was hers or his, but I’ve seen walkers in several houses since we started looking at houses. That tells you how few ranchers we have around here. If it’s a rancher, you can bet that an older person is living in it. When one goes on the market, we swarm over them, dive down and scrap over them until someone emerges the victor.

The history of this house includes two couples. An elderly couple bought it when it was first built in 2000 and lived there for only two years. I don’t know what their story is.

The second couple bought the house in 2002 and stayed there until recently. The husband died, and the wife went to live with her son. Her son and his wife made the upstairs of their house into an apartment for her: kitchen, an en suit, sitting area, and a lift so she can get up and down the stairs. Pretty nice. She left the house vacant for awhile so she could make sure she liked living with her son. Very smart.

The owner received our contract yesterday, but said that she wanted to wait for her kids to see it before she made a decision. If this takes too long, someone else will put in an offer. I know it. This house only went on the market yesterday. After we made the offer, our agent called to tell us that another couple had looked at it already, and three more were lined up to look today, and I’m sure there will be more by later this morning. I hate bidding wars. Whatever will be, will be. That should be on a pillow, too. Probably is.

Another Look-See and Coverage

Conch House with Red Door

Conch House with Red Door: Peter Vey

We’re looking at another house today. It’s the first one in a while. I’m hopeful. It’s a rancher. We rode by it yesterday, and it’s pretty from the outside: smaller than our present house, brick, small yard, backs up to a horse farm/stables, overlooks a huge pasture, a few trees in the backyard. It’s in one of the communities we liked when we first moved back from MD in 2002, but there was nothing available at that time. It’s a small neighborhood. It has mostly ranchers, and I think a lot of people our age live there. It’s in another cul-de-sac. If we buy it, maybe I’ll change the name of this blog to Cul-de-sac Chronicles. Where have I heard that before?

I will be eligible for Medicare as of May 1. This prompted a two-hour phone call with an employee of a company that H’s former employer hired to facilitate the process of getting supplemental insurance when company retirees are ready to go on Medicare – explaining options, benefits, navigating the murky waters of insurance-ese, etc.  It was helpful.

My last eye injection costs $300.00. I was supposed to get another one in April, but I asked them to push it into May. The supplemental should cover what Medicare does not. I have some pretty costly health issues, so this will help. It took a while to whittle down the bills from that hospitalization a couple of years ago – $7000. Between my problems and H’s teeth, we are a sorry lot. I feel like I’ve won the lottery.

So that’s what’s happening around here, all boring but important.

Alzheimer’s Drug Slows Mental Decline In Early Study

91f21ba09b888b046ae1e0f3937155b92e7141eb“It’s a bigger treatment effect than we had hoped for,” said the researchers. (Photo: Getty Images)

When I opened my email this morning, I found the link to this article about the potential for a new treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease.

An experimental drug from Biogen Idec became the first Alzheimer’s treatment to significantly slow cognitive decline and reduce what is believed to be brain-destroying plaque in patients with early and mild forms of the disease…

Source: Yahoo Health

Talk about good news for oldies. When H got up, I mentioned it to him.

Bella ~ I read an article that claims to have found a potentially successful treatment for mild Alzheimer’s Disease. It slows its progress.

H ~ Yeah?

Bella ~ Yeah.

twenty minutes later

Bella ~ Hey, did I mention this new treatment for Alzheimer’s?

H ~ …

Some of us are happier about this study than others.


“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
— Charles Dickens

Mr. Dickens got it exactly right. It was in the seventies and sunny and beautiful on Monday and Tuesday. Neighbors were out and about, picking up sticks, messing in their flowerbeds. Kids were outside and doing kid things and playing kid games. We even talked about pulling the grill out from under its cover and firing it up. Everyone was shaking off the winter. Last winter. That winter that was over and gone.

But not so fast.

Yesterday, I woke to  a freezing room. I could not get warm all day long. The temperatures had fallen into the thirties (which would not have been so bad if it hadn’t been in the seventies – almost eighties – on Mon. and Tues.). It’s dark, raining and in the thirties this morning, but we are hopeful. March is all about hope. No mater how few or how sporadic, we always get those first beautiful, warm days, and I love March for that. March keeps me coming back because I know April is on the way.

I had lab work yesterday. Later this morning, I’ll know if my INR is back where it should be. There are two labs that I can use. They are both affiliated with the hospital where my doctor practices. One is in the hospital and one is across the street. I used the one across the street for awhile. The nurses were just north of downright rude. Not rude, but almost: cold, barely spoke, no eye contact. I started going to the lab in the hospital about a year ago, and the atmosphere was completely different. The difference is really nothing more than courtesy. They say good morning, make a little small talk about the weather or whatever, and at the end they usually say, “Have a nice day.” Not high-level skills, just common courtesy. I leave feeling much better. How could there be such a difference?

But this curtesy thing goes both ways.

Yesterday, there were only two of us waiting for lab work. The other lady had been on her cell phone most of the time we were there, but had just said goodbye. A nurse came out and asked for our paper work. Never saying a single word, paperwork in her hand, the other woman raised her arm straight up, waved the papers at the nurse, gave her a look of attitude, and remained seated. I told the nurse that I didn’t have paperwork, that my doctor keeps a standing order in the computer. The other lady remained seated, arm straight as an arrow, and made it clear that she thought the nurse should walk over to her. I turned and looked at at her and got eye contact. I don’t know what I looked like, but she took her arm down and got out of her seat. I think I probably looked shocked. Look at me getting all up in someone else’s business.

When my son was little, I used to tell him that a little courtesy takes almost no effort, and reaps big rewards. Everyone feels better. It’s a cold world out there. A little warmth is appreciated.

Nurse Debbie just called and my INR is perfect.

All of the Above

Pleasant in the Extreme

We’re sitting here in the office with the window open. It’s that warm. And there’s a slight breeze. H played golf today, and I did little. I pulled some stuffed peppers out of the freezer – extras that I froze the last time I made them. They were good the first time, and they will be good tonight. That counts for work, doesn’t it. I also cleaned the bathroom sinks.

Yesterday’s day-trip was fun and what a beautiful day. We drove home with the windows down and the sun roof open. It’s spirit-lifting to let a little air in after such a long winter.

Slightly Spiky but Not So Bad

Our Realtor called a few minutes ago, “Just wanted to touch base.” Really? There’s nothing to touch base about, no reason to catch up. For over a month, there have been zero suitable listings in our price range. I’m beginning to think that we are going to have to accept the facts, and decide whether to put a first floor bedroom in this house or begin searching in other locations. H leans one way and I lean the other, but neither of us is rooted in concrete about this.

Not a Big Deal

Last night, we received a phone call from Mary Anne, our homeowner’s insurance agent. They will no longer offer residential coverage, only commercial. She said that we would be covered until July 1. The company taking over that part of their policies may or may not continue to insure us. It doesn’t rally matter. We’ve been thinking of changing anyway. I believe that we can find it for less. Research coming up.


I found some cute clothes for the grands at the outlets, and H found some t-shirts at Nautica, the same ones he’s worn for years and same place he’s gotten them for years. He didn’t try them on until he got home because…. well… he’s worn them for years and knew his size. When he did try them on, he didn’t like them as well as his older ones. The cut wasn’t quite as ample, and the sleeves were shorter. and so was the length. The entire shirt was not as generous as last year’s shirts. He’s lost eight pounds since last summer, so it wasn’t that. He looked at the tags. The ones from last year were made in Egypt and the new ones are from India. I have no idea, but H always has a theory. He’s a person who looks for explanations, I’m a person who accepts things as they are…. after I’ve griped for awhile. They will be returned on our next visit.

Old Movies

filmI managed to watch a couple of movies this weekend. Can you believe I’d never seen Father of the Bride? Me either, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I never watched it because I didn’t think I would like it. I’m always slow on these things, but come on. It was made in 1991.

You will not believe this next one. Steel Magnolias (1989). This one I had seen, but there it was, and there I was. Remember all of those one-liners? If you don’t have something nice to say, come sit by me. And … An ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure. But Shelby still died in the end.

I remember Julia Roberts telling a story about Dolly Parton in an interview. While filming the movie, the women lived in their own little houses in the Southern town where it was filmed. One evening, they were sitting on the porch and it was hot – really hot. They were all sweating and complaining about the overwhelming heat, all except Dolly. Curious, Julia asked her, “Dolly, I’ve never heard you complain. Come on. This heat must be getting to you as much as the rest of us.” Dolly replied, “I was dirt poor when I was a kid. All I ever wanted was to be rich and famous. Now I’m both. I got nothing to complain about.” I thought about that when I saw Dolly wearing a sweater in the movie.


We’re off to our small historical town again this morning. Maybe we can actually make it there today without running into traffic or an accident. It’s supposed to be beautiful – 74º and sunny. That’s about as ideal as weather ever gets. I call those days ‘golden days’ or ‘top-ten days’ – one of the top ten most beautiful days of the year. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been ten days since we woke to a snow and ice sandwich. That’s March. It can be cruel or so very benevolent. I like this side of March.

Hope everyone has a great Monday.

H’s Day: Adam, Home Depot, The Mulch Yard


It’s a dark and rainy Saturday morning here, a day for reading and hot tea. Yesterday was beautiful. I’ve never seen a happier H. He was practically giddy. He worked in the yard: picking up sticks, raking gum balls, trimming the monkey grass (liriope). He reminded me of a dog marking his territory after this long and isolating winter. He came inside with blood smeared down his jeans (I love him in jeans), his first injury of the season. He’s always getting scraped up.

Adam made his first visit of the season. Adam does all the fertilizing, pesticides, herbicides – basically all the ‘cides’ and everything that’s bad for the environment. I can’t stand thinking about it. H does all the mowing, weeding, trimming and mulching.

H loves Adam. It took him a long time to give up doing all the yard work himself, but he’s crazy about this kid (30 ish). He always goes out and talks grass with him and weeds and bugs and moles and all the pernicious enemies of grass and lawn. I suspect that Adam likes H, too. Sweet kid.

IMG_7188Home Depot

After Adam left, H made a visit to Home Depot for a bag of soil acidifier (sulfur) for the blue hydrangea. Remember when we used to throw a few nails in the hole with the blue ones before we planted them? We already have lime for the pink ones. And he got a couple of rolls of weed barrier for the front beds. He didn’t have to pay for any of this because I overpaid the bill because I forgot about the automatic electronic payment I’d set up. I can hear Dad in my head, “More money than brains.” So true.

After seeing how happy H was yesterday, it made me second guess (yet again) our wish to buy a home in a community that’s responsible for outside maintenance.

The Mulch Yard

After Home Depot, he went to the mulch yard. H loves mulch like some women love jewelry. His retired brother (80) works part time at the mulch yard. I think part of the reason H likes getting mulch is because it gives him an excuse to talk with his brother. Working in the yard, seeing his brother, and living safe in the knowledge that he has a truckload of mulch in the garage makes H’s world right. He can’t put the mulch down today because of the rain, but the first clear day will find him shoveling mulch from the back of his truck with the radio blaring.

H, who seldom likes a rainy day, is practically jumping up and down over this perfect rain immediately after Adam put the fertilizer down. He can’t believe his great, good luck.

Conversation with H

Bella ~ Did you see Tommy at the mulch yard.

H ~ Yes.

Bella ~ How is he?

H~ His ears are getting long.

Bella ~ He’s always had big ears.

H  ~ No, I mean really long!

Bella ~ How long?

H~ (holds fingers up to ear) This long!

Bella ~ How did he ever get those big ears?

H ~ I don’t know, but I’ll never have anything that big!

Bella ~ ……..

Everything’s a competition with men.


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