Bella Rum

Thanksgiving in Retrospect

family-tree-1I’m going to try for the second time to write my day-after Thanksgiving post without being so bleak. Yesterday, my feelings caught me off guard. I usually have such a joyful time at my brother’s, but I found myself feeling a little emotional about how small our group has gotten and how haggard Aunt Ruby looked and the fact that Cassidy Grace has grown little, tiny boobs. She’s my nephew’s youngest, the baby is eleven-years-old. What’s the matter with me. I wanted to weep at Cassidy Grace’s boobs, telling them to leave her alone for a few more years. Okay, weeping is a little dramatic, but you know what I mean. All of it combined made me a little sad.

How beautiful my nephew’s girls are, and smart. Can’t leave that out. They are bona fide smarties. They all make straight As. He and his wife have done one bang-up job of raising those girls. They are an adorable family. The oldest one is in college and ecstatic about her life. Ecstatic! It made me happy to just sit there and listen to her. His middle daughter is so smart, the kind of smart where she doesn’t have to try, and at 13, the kind of beautiful where she’s going to cause my nephew a lot of misery very shortly. That child is breathtaking. And the baby. Well, the baby just ain’t a baby no more.

My nephew followed me out to the car when we left. He told me how happy he is. He said, “Aunt Bella, you know I was a little wild when I was younger, and Sheri was so straight. We were different, but now we’re at the same place. It’s like things evened out, and we want the same things now. I’ve never been happier in my life. I’m so happy, Aunt Bella.” And isn’t that exactly how it happens in marriages. Some grow apart, and some grow together.

I was overwhelmed with how lucky we are to have the family we have left, and probably too aware that it will change again soon. Ignorance really can be blissful sometimes. I need to call Aunt Ruby more often. I do love her so.

There were the usual wacky stories. One of my more nefarious cousins sold a property to another of my cousins. The cousin who bought the property went down and record the deed. Then another guy showed up to do the same. My nefarious cousin had also sold it to the other guy. Yep, he sold it twice. How do you even do something like that? His sister said to me, “He’s a grifter. A nasty, mean person.” I generally love the crazies in my family, but this particular cousin is a bad sort. I’m thinking sociopath.

The food was, as always, fantastic. I wish I had a plate of it now. It was over-the-top delicious. My sweet cousin did bring the cranberry bread pudding with hard sauce. She wrote the recipe down for me. She got the recipe from a chef friend. I have no idea why I didn’t bring some home. I’m kicking myself.

Through tears, my brother told me about a brain surgeon friend of his whose fingers started going numb during a surgery. He had to let another doctor close for him. Within six months, he was wheelchair bound. I’m not sure what the affliction is, but it’s a horrible story, and I hated seeing my brother so vulnerable.

Sometimes we can’t help but feel what we feel. Sometimes it’s better to just go with it and feel it. When I was in my pajamas, safe and sound at home, I crumbled and wept. I wasn’t even crying about one specific thing. It was all too much. I felt cleansed when I finished. I’m so grateful for all that we have, but never have I been more aware of how fragile is our grasp on that tenuous thread connected to all that matters.

Over the River and Through the Woods


We will hit the road for my brother’s house in a few hours. I’m hoping that my cousin brings that delectable cranberry bread pudding with the incredible hard sauce for dessert. If not, I hope I can wheedle the recipe out of her; if not, I hope I can get her email address so I can bug the bedoodle (technical term) out of her until she sends it to me.

I just looked at last year’s Thanksgiving post. It reminded me that we left a half hour early and arrived a half hour late.


Yesterday, a reporter reminded travelers to leave early, that the traffic would be horrendous, that Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday of the year, and that 89% of Americans choose to drive to their destination at Thanksgiving. You may remember my many complaints about I-64. It can be a nightmare on any holiday, in the summer with beach traffic, when it snows, when it rains…. when the sun shines. You get the picture. We’ll leave early.

I’m a little superstitious about listing the things for which I have to be grateful. I’ll just say that my cup is running over with wonderful things this year. It’s been a very good year. With time, I’ve learned that few years are as good as this one has been. I’m ever so grateful for it, and wherever you are and however you celebrate, I hope you and yours have a safe and very happy Thanksgiving.

May the feasting begin!!

The Grand Visit

IMG_0449Those are chocolate Kisses in the plastic bag in the little one’s right hand. She wheedles them out of H. Laboring under the illusion that he’s in control, he parcels them out to her.

We had such fun this weekend. After they left, I texted my DIL that it was a nice visit with those wacky kids. She texted back, “It’s okay. You can call them crazy.” The energy they expend is remarkable. Just watching them is a sport. We both took naps after they left.

Last week, I bought three ready-to-paint ornament kits (a dollar each) with paint included. Each grand painted his or her own. The little one got some help from mama. Then we played Tiddlywinks and Crazy Eight, another couple of dollars well spent. My grandson especially liked the Tiddlywinks. H wants to get marbles for his stocking. Even with all the competition from electronic devices, those kids still love regular games with real people. Thank goodness. Pick-up Sticks is another good one.

It was chilly but sunny on Sunday, so they played outside for awhile. Kids need to go outside everyday, baring hurricane winds or blizzard conditions. You wouldn’t want to lose one of them in a whiteout. If you’re desperate, you could tie a rope around their waists and feed them out the door, inch-by-inch, one-by-one.

As we often do, we had sushi Saturday night. We always work out something else for the older two, but the little one and all the adults love sushi. It’s become tradition, a tradition I love. First of all, I really like sushi; second, I don’t have to cook. It’s win/win all the way. I tell them not to eat sushi anywhere but here. I’m afraid they’ll tire of it. :(

IMG_0453I got them to sit still long enough for a pic on the front steps. I like to get photos of them on the steps… wherever we live. It’s always a cute shot, and it’s nice for them when they grow up. I wish I’d done it with my son. Notice my freshly painted railing.

Crazy Uncle Jack

IMG_0428H went to the poke-in-the-eye doc with me. There was a man in the waiting room. He had a full head of white hair and a fancy beard that reminded me of a cross between Colonel Sanders and Kenny Rogers. He was a talker. When the nurse came for the guy he was talking to, he started talking to us. He mentioned that his son gave him an M1 Garand in mint condition for his birthday. “It’s sweet. If the government comes for my weapons, they better bring something powerful with ’em.” And he was not smiling when he said it. The waiting room got quieter, and everyone leaned a bit closer. The nurse called my name, and I left H to carry on the conversation.

Uncle Jack was a little crazy. A lot crazy. I never could figure out why Aunt Sally (Dad’s sister) married him, but after six kids, she was pretty stuck, wouldn’t you say? He would have been simpatico with Colonel Sanders. He had an arsenal. Whether this should be legal or not can be and is disputed, but I think most people would agree that the owner of an arsenal should be in his right mind. Uncle Jack, most decidedly, was not. Unlike Colonel Sanders, the government did show up on Uncle Jack’s doorstep one day back in the sixties, and they wanted a little look-see at his weapons. Uncle Jack called them flunkies, and told them to go away and bring their bosses with them next time they visited. If he was in the mood when they returned, he might talk to them… on his doorstep. Uncle Jack was colorful, and I love a little crazy as well as the next Southerner, but I like my crazy unarmed. I don’t know the upshot of this story, but I do not believe the “government” ever got inside Uncle Jack’s house. I’m pretty sure I would have heard the story, but maybe not. Thankfully, he never killed anyone… that I know of. He and the guy in the waiting room would have become fast friends.

IMG_0429The kids will be here later this morning. I didn’t do much cooking. Yesterday, I did stop at Michael’s to get some ribbon to make a bow to spruce up a wreath that I’ve had for over twenty years. I finally had to remove everything because it was falling apart. I haven’t added any doodads back yet. I kind of like it plain. It’s hanging on the backdoor in the kitchen.

It’s That Time

I couldn’t stay awake past 8:30 last night. I woke at 1:30 and now I can’t go back to sleep.

Then I got hungry. I didn’t want to eat a bunch of calories, but my stomach started to roll. I found those tiny Oysterettes in the snack drawer. A few Oystejrettes or a couple of saltines seem to work best. This always happens when my stomach is empty.

When I opened the fridge and saw the venison we had the other night, my stomach revolted. H found it in the freezer, and I thought it was leftover beef stew. I’ve taken to freezing things so I can have an easy meal occasionally. I guess I forgot to label it. I like venison steaks very much, but cannot handle the roast anymore.

Jamie – the remodeling guy – got back to us on the walls for the office. He’ll do it the second week in January. I didn’t want to get into all that during the holidays. It should take three days. Not so bad. I’ll take photos.

I have an appointment with my poke-in-the-eye doctor today. He isn’t going to poke me in the eye this time, and he didn’t last time. On my last visit, he said it was time to stop the treatments, and see if my vision stays the same or begins to deteriorate again. It hasn’t changed since I started the treatments. Now that he stopped the treatments, the hope is that the progression will creep… not leap. Fingers crossed.

I went to our farmer’s market yesterday. It’s always sad this time of year. The jars of jams, pickled corn, asparagus and peaches have dwindled to a few. I scarfed up several blocks of churned butter. I’ll put it in the freezer. I got the last two jars of pickled beets. I grabbed a few tomatoes. Their like will not be seen again until next summer. :( I could weep. I also found some local apples for Waldorf salad. Seasons come and go. There’s something special for each time of year. When I was little, I used to say, “I wish it could be Christmas everyday.” My mother used to say, “If Christmas came everyday, it would not be special.” Right she was.

Walking and Rainy Days

IMG_9636photo from last summer

I am almost finished with my Christmas shopping. I picked up an ornament and a candle for my brother and Donna. Well, the ornament and candle are for her. I’ll get some Spanish redskin peanuts for him. He loves those. It isn’t actually a Christmas present, but I like to take something to them on Thanksgiving. They always have it at their house, and that deserves a gift, for sure.

I’m going to walk as soon as it gets light. I’m trying to get back to doing it outside. I really enjoy walking around the neighborhood, looking at the fall decorations and checking out the front door colors (I still haven’t painted mine), but Christmas shopping, doctor appointments, and other things are preventing my newfound dedication from realizing its potential.

As for diet, I’m not dieting at the moment, but I’m not overeating. I’m wallowing in no-man’s-land, trying to stave off weight gain between now and January 1. Then you’ll probably see a big post about how I’m climbing back on that horse again. There is no winning or losing this battle. It keeps raging.

Wait! I hear something.

I just opened the front door. Guess what? It’s pouring rain. No walking outside this morning. H told me that rain was predicted for today, but I thought it wouldn’t start until later. There will be indoor activities after a grocery store run this morning.

The Grand Trio will be here this weekend. Yippee! It feels like I haven’t seen them for awhile. H bought Crazy 8 at the Dollar Tree. Do you remember that card game? We used to play it when we were kids. The grands like to play games when they come. It’s always good to have them on hand when it rains. Sometimes rainy days are the most fun.

Frost on the Pasture

IMG_0399Frost on the Pasture

So I heard last night that forty-five million lost or stolen passports are floating around out there. Forty-five million! Let’s just take that in for a moment. Breathe.

I’m sure that the lost and stolen passports were already issued passports, not new and blank ones, but still very disturbing. When H was delivering for Expediting, he delivered blank passports occasionally. He would pick up about 60 pallets at Lufthansa Cargo at Dulles. They would put a numbered seal on the truck, and he would deliver the cargo to the Federal Reserve. When he arrived, armed guards opened steel doors. He drove the truck inside. They closed the doors, made him get out of the truck and stand against the wall until they evacuated everyone from the warehouse. The seal was removed from the truck, and the numbered pallets were unloaded and accounted for. Then he was allowed to leave.

Moving on to truly important things.

Forgive me, but I have to tell you about my “other” dream. You can skip this paragraph, but I like to record some of my dreams here. I had it the same night I dreamed the bound-and-hanging-from-the-rafters nightmare. I didn’t remember it until H told me about it. Once he jogged my memory, I recalled it. Two friends of mine were nurturing an egg that would eventually hatch an alien baby (not the kind that needs a passport). A third friend, Maria, was also there. The egg was half black and half white. A man appeared, and it became clear that he was going to adopt the baby alien. He had a request. He wanted to stay and help nurture the egg, he wanted to tell the egg everyday that he loved it. He wanted it to come into the world knowing it was loved. Maria was having none of that. She told him, “NO,” and started pushing him away. I was so mad at her that I picked up something big and threw it at her. When I woke, my pillow was across the room. I watched this video the day before I had this dream. (Maria is one of the most nurturing people I know in my awake life.)

Using a video, I usually walk inside during the warmer months. Mornings have been in the low 30s lately. We woke to frost on the pasture a couple of mornings this week. It was beautiful. I can’t wait to see snow out there. The ferns are slightly damaged but still hanging in there.IMG_0401

I unearthed my Patagonia undershirt that I’ve had  for over twenty-five years – that thing is awesome – and put myself out there in the brisk air. I met another neighbor yesterday, Cathy, and her rescue dog, Daisy. Daisy loved H. Pets and kids always love him, and one old woman. She lives in a ranch in the cul-de-sac that’s straight across from ours. I should have started walking when it was a little warmer. I would have met more people.

We went to lunch at Panera Bread yesterday. As usual, I got the “pick 2” so I could get a half sandwich and small soup. I chose the Frontega chicken Panini and the low-fat vegetarian garden vegetable soup with pesto. The calorie count was 470. Not ideal, but not too bad for eating out. I could have done better, but I really wanted a warm sandwich. I liked it very much. They took my smoked turkey, cheddar, sun-dried tomato sandwich away because it didn’t meet their new “standards” of no additives, etc. Panera watching out for me.

apple-ginger-walnut-pieH made a delicious Ginger-Apple-Walnut Crumble Pie. I found the recipe in Country Living magazine while waiting for the next centipede attack in the bathroom. It was yummy, and if you eat it over the kitchen sink, it’s zero calories. Scientific fact.

The Nightmare


The Nightmare – by Henry Fuseli

I was screaming, turning in circles, flailing my arms and jumping up and down in terror in the doorway to our bedroom. I finally heard H. He seemed very far away. He was yelling at me in a firm tone, much like you would use with a recalcitrant child about to run into traffic, “Wait, wait, wait!” In my confusion, I thought he was going to hurt me. It took a few seconds but seemed much longer. I finally came back to reason, or reason came back to me.

I dreamed that a man, a friend or acquaintance, came to me and asked, begged me to let him take me to Jacob. Jacob was someone with whom I’d had a relationship of some sort. I don’t think it was romantic, but it was more than casual. I think he was probably a mentor or authority figure, someone I had trusted in the past. I had a sense of foreboding, but I reluctantly agreed to meet with Jacob. I say I agreed, but I don’t think there was any other choice.

The man took me to a farm, a large, old house was at the end of a long lane. There was a barn, a red barn. I saw a man who was bound in a blue canvas harness that was trimmed in white piping. He was hanging from the rafters in the barn. I believe I spent the night in the house.

The next morning I was taken to Jacob. I told him I wanted to go. He forbade me to leave. I began to panic, telling him that I had always been loyal to him, always done what he wanted, and that I wanted freedom. Jacob summoned someone. A large man appeared with a blue canvas harness for me. Screaming in terror, I ran for the door. Then I heard H yelling, firmly, “Wait, wait, wait.”

H was actually awake because I’d awakened him a few minutes earlier. H said that I never woke up, but he had calmed me. He was drifting back to sleep when I jumped up and ran for the door like I was on fire. He said that I was too fast for him. It scared the hell out of him. He was afraid I’d make it through he door and hurt myself by falling over something. He said I was screaming like a wild woman, flailing my arms and jumping off the floor and turning in circles. I was sound asleep. Well, maybe not so sound… of mind, but sound asleep. I tried to go back to sleep, but forget that. I came in here, visited some blogs and decided to tell you what happened. Crazy city.

Thank goodness I don’t have to go to work everyday. I’m not sure what I’ll do today. I may go over to A. C. Moore. It’s only about five minutes from here. Do you have one of those? They are the hub of all things Christmas, my dear. I think I like them better than Michael’s. They have the same kind of stuff: garlands, wreaths, little do-dads of all imagination. They also have games and crafts and….. well, just about anything you could ever imagine, including arrangements for gravestones. They used to be Ben Franklin. I can never remember the name, A. C. Moore. I just call it A. C. Cowling. Nothing says Christmas like O. J. Simpson and that extraordinary white Ford Bronco getaway attempt.



I thought I’d posted this, but I guess I hadn’t. The Porch Pup is more of a Garage Pup now. When we moved, the movers put him beside the garage door and there he stayed. I could put him at the front door, but he’s more visible where he is.

H enjoyed his 50th reunion. H grew up in a small town, and they’ve all been together since first grade. They are like family in some respects. My theory is that people who still feel and look good like to go to their reunions. I asked him if people commented on how good he looked. He said, “A few.” I asked, “Men or women?” Ha! Maybe I should have gone with him. :/ Reunions are like that. Everyone takes stock. He came home and told me about everyone: who looked good, who had new grandchildren, who had lost a spouse, who was sick, etc. He ordered lasagna and had a great time.

Oh, I almost forgot. He learned that a guy from his school (not from his class) lives in our community. Someone at the reunion told him that he bought a house here when the neighborhood was being built and never moved. I guess he’s been here since 2000.

My DIL and I texted for a bit last night. She had some hilarious ideas about H going to his reunion alone, and what I should be texting him while he was there. All by myself, I laughed uncontrollably. I probably looked like a mad woman. What a wicked sense of humor that girl has. They were shopping for a sofa, and she sent a photo of The Grand Trio lounging in their individual recliners. I could see the little one working the  remote. Can you imagine shopping with three kids! What a wild, little family they have. There are some live wires there, I tell you. My son was an only child, and he wanted kids. Luckily he married someone who wanted very much to be a mother. See how things work out sometimes.

I don’t know what I’m doing today, but it’s time for H to get out of bed. Those people exhausted him.

Reunions, Suburban Bliss, Painting, Little Birds and a Hope

H is at his 50th high school reunion tonight. I’ve never attended mine, but he loves his. He attended a small school. There were only twenty-five people in his graduating class. They’re meeting at an Italian restaurant this time. I’ve gone with him many times, but I opted out tonight. I told him to take pictures. I’m eating Italian, too. I roasted some cherry tomatoes and garlic in a little olive oil. I’m going to pour it over spaghetti. That and a salad will be mighty fine.

The guy came to winterize the irrigation system on Thursday. He told H that the yard was looking great. It was all crab grass when he last saw it in the spring, but  once H aerated and seeded in September, it improved quickly. I am such a suburban girl, my brother likes more land around him and my son prefers urban living. Each to his own, right? I love my brother’s house and the property, but I don’t want to maintain it.

IMG_9451My friend brought lilies of the valley to me the other day. She gave some to me when we moved into our last house, and in a few years they covered a large space at the front door. I like to use them as ground cover. H planted them at the backdoor this time. I may get a few more from her. For something that looks so delicate, they are such hardy plants.

photos taken at our front porch at the old house

IMG_9456I painted the wrought iron rails on the front steps yesterday. They were in bad need it. How long do you think I could survive without painting something? What is it about painting? I would find an excuse to paint a turtle if I had nothing else to attack with a brush. I think I’m a frustrated artist… and that would be because…. I have no artistic talent. Not that kind anyway. So I do what I can.

Two little birds are roosting in our straw woman who sits beside the front door. We can’t be sure because they fly away so fast, but we think they are Carolina wrens. It’s a comfy little shelter for their sleep time. I don’t know what they will do when we take it down. I suspect they will check in to our wreath motel, because they flew out of the fall wreath the other night when I opened the door. I guess I’ll have to leave my Christmas wreath up until it’s time for a spring one.

Terrible, horrible and very bad things are happening in France, in the world. It takes the breath away. My DIL told me last week that she has fears about the world her kids will inherit. I told her they would have a better chance than most, but I have fears, too. They will be so good for this world. My fervent hope is that this world will be good for them, and for all children.


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