Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

With a Heavy Heart

With a heavy heart, I write this post. I’m up in the middle of the night again. It’s shaping up to be a horrible week. Sunday afternoon, Crystal called. She was hysterical, and it was hard to understand her. The husband of my other niece, Crystal’s sister, had died in an accident on the way home from church. Jeff was a sweet guy with a big heart, and only 49.

He had wanted my niece to go to church with him Sunday morning, but she begged off, telling him she was swamped at work. She wanted to work from home, and try to catch up. She is stunned. She told me that she was trying to “digest” it all, but couldn’t seem to.

My niece and her husband were one of those couples who do well together. They seemed to get through the tough times by holding on to each other, and they enjoyed the good times with gusto. They just returned from a week at the Outer Banks. They had so much fun that they added a couple of days to their vacation. She hadn’t even unpacked yet.

Only a couple of weeks ago, I sat with both my nieces on Crystal’s deck as the sun inched its way down behind a big, old pecan tree in the backyard. I told her that she’d made a good choice in her husband. That he was a good guy. She said, “I think I’ll keep him.” How could we have known how ironic that comment would become in only a couple of weeks?

I will remember Jeff as the big, muscle-ly guy with the bald head who could be found with the newest baby at family gatherings, cooing and cuddling with his whole heart showing. His insides were as soft as his outer appearance was tough. He fooled no one. You’d have to be blind not to see what a sweetheart he was.

A Nice Couple

Yesterday we ran some errands and did a little shopping in odd places. We didn’t buy anything of consequence. Then we went to lunch.

When H and I were at Goodwill – after going up and down a few aisles – a woman approached us and said, “You two make a nice couple.” I said, “Well, thank you.” She said, “No, really. You’re very good together.” We talked a few minutes and went on our way. I said, “Wasn’t that sweet.” H said, “She probably saw me grab your butt.” I said, “I’m just glad she didn’t see us at the deli the time you let that woman slice the salami too thick.”

She would have come away with a different perspective if she’d seen us on salami day. It’s impossible to judge anyone’s relationship in its totality when you only get a snippet. Heck, it’s hard for us to judge our own relationships when we’re in the thick of it. What woman knows if her 28-year-old husband will help her take care of her aging father thirty years later? Only years later can one look back and get a feel for how it all went: the good and the bad of it, the highs and lows of it, the stand-by-me-through-thick-and-thin of it.

When H and I were hanging pictures at my niece’s house, she said something very similar. After hanging a grouping on a wall, which required some effort to get everything just right, she said, ” I could hear you guys in the other room. You work well together and you’re so funny.”

This all reminded me of a documentary I saw about a hundred years ago. Psychologists claimed they could predict the potential success or failure of a marriage by observing couples as they tackled complicated tasks or projects together. It was interesting, but I think H and I would have been judged as “doomed to fail” back then. We’ve learned to co-operate… mostly, but not always. There are plenty of times when we still butt heads. I assume the couples who worked together smoothly on their projects did well in marriage, but maybe not. What do I know? Maybe the couples who co-operated and completed their projects without too much conflict bored each other to death after two years of marriage, and went looking for someone who would challenge them.

I do believe you can learn a lot about a relationship when people have to work together toward a common goal. Mostly about how they disagree with one another: do they do it respectfully, do they degrade their mate or bully their mate. But people change, grow, learn to work together, or not. I think common values are probably a better indicator of potential marital bliss than being able to complete a task without strangling your partner when you’re 25. Of course, it helps if he gets the salami sliced thin enough.

Can it be?

Time is fleeting. Betcha never heard that one. It’s August! Can that be true? The second half of August? Where did the summer of 2017 go? I can see you’re scratching your head and wondering the same thing.

We’re still busy doing little, finishing-type things at Crystal’s house: hanging a few more pictures, hanging curtains and new blinds, installing new towel racks and toilet paper holders, etc. It’s been a lot of fun. H wants to do a couple of things in her yard: take down a trashy crabapple tree, dig out two overgrown and irreparably misshapen shrubs that are inhibiting two perfectly good shrubs from doing their best. She did not ask him to do this, and honestly, it probably wouldn’t have occurred to her. She doesn’t know that much about gardening, but H can’t ignore it.

She hung her bird feeders, and finds herself in an ongoing battle with the squirrels. She’s like H in this way. He has a couple of squirrel-proof feeders, but he always seems to keep one that isn’t. I suspect it’s because he secretly relishes the ongoing battle of wits with the rodents. He’s still coming up with new tactics or devising some gadget or method that he thinks will defeat them. He doesn’t seem to realize that he has a life that includes all sorts of pursuits, demands and interests, but the squirrels have only one thing to think about all day and night: how to outwit that crazy guy who keeps running out of the house, clapping his hands and screaming.

We ate at Crystal’s the other night. H grilled burgers, and we ate on the deck. I finally stayed home yesterday and cleaned my house. Believe me, it needed it. Today I’m doing laundry and dusting and fertilizing my potted plants and flowers.

Out back on the patio, it feels like the beginning of the beginning of fall. I can smell it. I need to settle down with a book back there. The mornings are sweet. The birds sing their hearts out, and there’s plenty of shade. These late August days go quickly. Before you know it, it will be fall.

Seize the day.

Hope

A couple of days ago, I was in the grocery store self-checking my groceries when I heard the happiest and most excited voice behind me. It was filled with joyful surprise, and then I heard another. It was two little girls. They could hardly contain their delight at seeing each other. When the smaller of the two saw her friend, whom I gathered she had not seen in a long while because she had moved and was now attending another school, she exclaimed, “Oh, Shanna! Oh, my friend! Oh, how I have missed you. I’ve missed you so much.” She was deeply sincere and more serious than I can tell you. Her little-girl voice sounded like an adult in its words and expressiveness. Unable to contain himself, a long “awwww” escaped Shanna’s father’s lips. I couldn’t stand it. I had to turn and see these two little girls. The smaller girl reached up and put her hands on each side of Shanna’s face, and sounding like an old, old spirit, she again said, “Oh, how I’ve missed you, my friend.” Shanna was beaming and  embraced her friend.

I lived in the same place my entire childhood. I knew every person on my street, and most of what happened in their homes. Other parents told me when I was doing something wrong, and my mother knew about it before I got home because a phone call was made. Probably half the neighborhood knew because we had party lines back then, and many were not shy about listening in on the conversations of others.

We looked out for each other. We also argued and annoyed each other, but it was a family, a community. When someone was sick or had fallen on hard times, a meal would show up at the door, delivered by one of the neighborhood kids. Someone’s mother had cooked extra and shared. There were a lot of good things about the way I grew up. Few kids today have that kind of childhood. It can’t be helped. Friendships blossom, and then one child moves. We are a mobile society. Still they bond, and they leave, and they bond again.

After that last fearful post, I wanted to write about something reassuring, hopeful. So I wrote this a couple of days ago: before the horrific events that engulfed Charlottesville yesterday. For some reason I didn’t publish it, but saved it instead. I felt I didn’t do the conversation between the little girls justice, or their genuine affection for one another, or Shanna’s father’s emotion. They were all moving. They were absorbed in their own drama, seemingly unaware of everyone else. I think the fact that one little girl was white and one was black was part of what moved me. I suspect that’s partly because of my age and because of where and how I grew up. White children and black children didn’t play with each other when I was young. The openly sincere and very public expressions of love these two little girls gave to each other never could have happened back then. Not in my world, but now it does. As always, I can only write from my own experience.

Yesterday we stumbled, but things do improve, and those two little girls are proof.

by the way

In the last post, I meant “short, fat, crazy person” as opposed to “short, fat, crazy people.” I was referring to a specific person. I hope you knew that.

Three Things that Annoy Me

Idiots and Fools Abound

Did you hear about that interoffice email an anonymous Google engineer wrote? He offered the idea that we don’t see women in higher positions because those positions require “long and stressful hours?” No? I guess we just can’t handle all that big, bad stress. Who knew?

Maybe you missed the email story because you’ve been pondering the ultimatum Trump directed toward North Korea today, warning them not to make any more threats against the United States or they will “face fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Like the world has never seen?? I’m assuming President Trump learned about Fat Man and Little Boy during his salad days at the private NY Military Academy where he claims they gave him “more military training than the Army could.” That can only mean one thing. He’s talking nuclear. He’s thinking he’s finally going to get to use those big-ass toys. I’m thinking that talk like that is best done in private where a short, fat, crazy person can save face, and the rest of us can go on watching trash tv where wealthy, shallow, cosmetically-altered housewives drive Lamborghinis. It’s our right as Americans.

Distracted, Irresponsible People

We ran a few errands today. We were sitting at a red light when a car zoomed past us and ran a solidly red light, not changing from caution, but solid RED. Crazy time. I figure she either ran the light on purpose or was distracted due to texting or talking on her phone. People need to stop that crapola. Someone who used to read this blog lost a grandchild because a distracted young woman was texting while driving. I still think of her. Such a needless tragedy. You may as well open up a bottle of wine and stick a straw in it while driving. It wouldn’t be a bit more dangerous.

This Cleaning Thing

Remember that post I wrote about cleaning your cell phone? Well, I cleaned mine. I made the solution, sprayed it on a soft, lint-free cloth, and rubbed until it was squeaky clean. Mind you, I’d never cleaned my phone before. I’ve had it for two years. Do you think I like admitting that? It’s been one week since I cleaned it, and my phone is as filthy as it was before I cleaned it. How can that be? And that’s my whole problem with cleaning. You have to keep doing it.

Word of the Day

bellicose: inclined or eager to fight; aggressively hostile; belligerent; pugnacious.

Sound like anyone you know?

Tying Up Loose Ends: Picture Hanging, Blinds and Mailbox Instalations

Yesterday was a very productive day. Crystal wanted to hang her pictures, she needed blinds on the back door (single woman living alone), and she needed a new mailbox. We made a trip to Home Depot for the blinds and mailbox. H could have fixed the existing mailbox, but the previous owners’ name was on it. The letters were actually raised and painted white so they were obvious. I’m not sure where they found a mailbox like that. The wife loved monograms. She was also smitten with decals. There were initials everywhere, and inspirational sayings in their kids’ rooms. I think Crystal will keep the one that’s over the closet door in the room where her granddaughter will sleep when she visits. We peeled off the rest of them. Easy-peasy.

H installed the blinds and mailbox. Crystal told me to do what ever I wanted with the pictures, but I made her look at everything before we hung anything. It all turned out well. I did a grouping over the couch that I think she really loved. It makes a big impact when you enter the front door.

I was so exhausted last night that I couldn’t have told you my name. I tried to listen to some news, but I couldn’t process the latest Trumpian shenanigans. I couldn’t focus. It doesn’t matter. There will only be more of the same tomorrow and the next day, and the next … The more it changes, the more it stays the same.

We are going to take our time this morning. We’ll go over later to finish hanging the pictures. H will pile all the boxes that are on her deck into the back of his truck, and take them to the dump. I need to throw in a load of laundry before we go, and water my plants. My house is beginning to miss me, but all the hard work at Crystal’s is finished. Only the fun stuff is left, and my own messes have promised not to go anywhere.

We’ve all had a blast doing this. It was a labor of love. She told us the other night how happy it made her to just sit on her deck with us, just hang out and talk. This move is a good thing for all of us.

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A Packet of Seeds and an Update on the Move


I haven’t been home in so long (except to sleep) that the zinnias that Lilou (my youngest grand) cut and put in a vase for me died. They drank until all the water in the vase was gone and then dropped dead. Shows them for not rationing their water.
The Grand Trio planted the seeds in May and were kind of impressed with what happened to them. So was I. H broke the soil for them and they threw them in. We promptly forgot about them because they’re on the side of the house, and we’re never over there. One day we walked out the garage door, and this is what we saw. That’s a big wow for a few cents. They work their hearts out for you.
If you know nothing about gardening, are too lazy to tend to your garden, don’t have the time to be bothered, I recommend roughing up some dirt and throwing in some zinnia seeds, and leave them alone. Better yet, get some kids to throw them in the soil. If you wish, you can water occasionally. Butterflies, bumblebees and other little, buzzy-type insects love them.

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My niece is in her new house. The move is finished, she bought a new mattress to go with her new bedroom set and it was left off the manifest and was not delivered. So she can’t sleep in her new house. Hopefully she will get that straightened out today. She loves the house and so do I (which is important, right?). She’s working today. I want to go over and hang pictures (picture-hanging is my thing), but I guess she should be there. Ya think? After all, it is her house.

I can see that I’m going to have to restrain myself on these decorating decisions. She tells me to do whatever I want, but I would never. However, I don’t like the way I put some of her stuff in her kitchen cabinets. I told H that I might go back today and do a little tweaking. He said, “Good grief, you’re like that weird, anal retentive guy in Sleeping With the Enemy, the one who straightened all the cans in Julia Roberts’ cabinets… before he tried to kill her. You may as well just gaslight her. You could go over every day and move things around while she’s at work.” “What’s with the sarcasm, buddy? I have really good taste.” I think he’s going to take my key away. 😦

She called and asked us to come over again last night. We ordered Chinese and ate on her new table and chairs on the deck. Before the big move yesterday, we moved a few things Tuesday, and my other niece – Crystal’s sister – came over. It was nice to just sit and talk and laugh with them. I don’t know when I’ve laughed so much. There’s nothing like telling family stories – even the horror stories – with family. The tales are so much funnier when the people listening know the history. I haven’t seen them together since Dad’s funeral. I cannot believe it’s been four years since Dad died.

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Moving Day… Almost and the Grand Trio

Crystal (my niece) got the keys to her house yesterday. We went over and helped her unload a few of her things that she had not put in the storage unit, but had kept with her. Her friends, an older couple, were there, too. Crystal stayed with them during this in-between time, and I can tell this move is bittersweet for them. They’ve enjoyed their time with her. They’re excited for her, but will miss her.

She’s working today. We’re going to her house in a few minutes. H is going to cut the grass because she doesn’t have her lawnmower yet, and we’re going to wait for her new bedroom set to be delivered. I’ll clean kitchen cabinets, and wash her new sheets while H mows.

We get the truck rental tomorrow, and will move all of her stuff from storage. It shouldn’t be too bad. We don’t have to move a bedroom set, and she sold her washer and dryer, two of the biggest things. Her couch, a desk and a wardrobe are the only large pieces left. She’s so excited, and so am I.

The grands came for a visit this weekend. They are all happy and reasonably healthy. I heard a couple of coughs. I’m not sure how thrilled the “olders” are about returning to school next month, but the youngest is excited. She’s transitioned from, “I’m not going to school. I’m staying home with Mama” to “I’m going to school soon. I get to ride the school bus.” The big change came after the school provided a day for the kindergarten kids to ride the bus to school, and visit their classrooms. Now she’s as hot to go as a firecracker on 4th of July.

So we’re off to mow and clean cabinets. Life is good. Gotta enjoy it fast. I hope things are good for you, too.

Who’s at the Front Door

I made gazpacho the other day. I have a good recipe for the chunky kind, but I wanted to try the smooth kind that you put in a processor. I’ve never made the smooth kind before. I wish I’d taken a picture of it. The color was pretty, prettier than it tasted. I think it was the onion that left a bitter aftertaste. It didn’t completely ruin it. We ate it, but I wouldn’t serve it to anyone. Back to the drawing board.

I finally cleaned my cell phone last week. I made a big bottle of device cleaning solution, and found a small spray bottle and a microfiber cleaning cloth. It worked like a gem, but it’s dirty again. See. That right there is what I hate about cleaning. It always needs to be done again. Once should be enough.

Guess who’s living around my front steps? A blue tailed skink lizard. That’s who. I water my plants every day, and I think he likes the water. When I start watering, he scurries out and dashes back and forth like he’s late for a meeting and can’t find his cufflinks. He scared the brown stuff out of me the first time I saw him, but we’re becoming familiar. They’re helpful little hunters of grasshoppers, snails, slugs, cockroaches and small mice. My guy is so small, I can hardly believe that last one. Still a little leery of each other, we’ve achieved a state of détente. We meet once a day and move on. He lives his life. I live mine. I’ve had worse relationships.

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