Bella Rum

Cornflower Blue, Honest and True

cornflowersYesterday made the top-ten in our neck of the woods. It was sweet in every way that a day could be sweet. A friend came for lunch. We spent the entire day outside on the patio drinking iced water or coffee, reminiscing, catching up on kids and talking car troubles. Except for the car troubles (her’s), it was a rare and unmarred day with puffy, white, fair-weather clouds hanging in a cornflower blue sky. They almost didn’t look real. Yesterday was only the sixth time we’ve seen the sun this month.

We repeat our stories now. She told me a story. She told me the same story an hour later. I don’t think I repeated any stories, but who knows?:) We took our blood pressures. LOL Her blood pressure is 114/78. She does not take blood pressure medication or any other medication. Zero medications!! Nothing!! She couldn’t tell me her cholesterol count, but her doctor says she doesn’t need meds for it. We are both young at heart, but she wins the prize for young in body.

She realized that her mother and her mother’s mother died at 72. Then I realized that my mother died at 53, and my sister was my age when she died, 66. I don’t know where those little tidbits came from. There were only those few minutes of dark talk, no dwelling. We laughed most of the day, but it is slightly disconcerting when things like that pop into your head unexpectedly.

FYI: The Scripps National Spelling Bee takes place this week in National Harbor, Maryland. Where did the “bee” in spelling bee originate?

By the late eighteenth century, bee had become commonly associated with the British dialect form, been or bean, referring to the joining of neighbors to work on a single activity to help a neighbor in need: sewing bee, quilting bee, etc. —

That’s all I have. Have a great hump day. It is Wednesday? Right?

Fungi, Sisters and Catheter Ablation

It is not April. It is May. I only mention this because we’ve had the fourth rainiest May since Neanderthal man first etched raindrops on his cave walls.

I received a birthday card from my sister. That’s kind of amazing. And I try not to use the word amazing for any reason. Just so you know… this is amazing. I finally gave up trying to keep contact with her. I decided to stop pestering her. I tried for a long time, but I finally let it go. I decided to allow it to be more… what’s that other word everyone uses all the time… authentic? Um…. no, that’s not it… organic. Yep. Organic. That’s it. Even though I’m not an organic kind of girl, I decided to go organic on this one, but you have to know that I’m always ready to pick up the banner again. I’m the puppy who wants to play with the cat, and never understands why the cat doesn’t want to play. Who knows what will happen next? Maybe a stick of gum in the next piece of correspondence or a dollar bill? Watch this space.

Did I mention that this rain is relentless? It brings low-hanging skies that you can almost reach up and touch, and darkness, an all-consuming dome of darkness. In a month that is supposed to be filled with merriment and profusion, all of this darkness feels out-of-place. If the sun ever shines again, there will be profusion like you’ve never seen, and merriment. Everything will bloom at the same time, and people will rush into the streets and make merry.

I went to my new doctor last week. He’s a cutie pie and as serious as a heart attack. I like “serious” in my doctors and dentists. Humor is not necessary for me. I do the humor. He responds with serious consideration. So cute. He wants me to consider a catheter ablation. He says I’m a candidate because I’m still young and a few other reasons, but I picked up on the ” young” part.

It can relieve symptoms of atrial fibrillation and improve quality of life. During an ablation, the doctor destroys tiny areas in the heart that are firing off abnormal electrical impulses and causing atrial fibrillation.

When I asked about risks (which are low statistically), stroke and death were on the list. I mentioned that if death occurred, stroke would not be a problem. He looked at me with that serious expression of his, considered my observation and replied, “No, no it would not.” See how smart he is, and he answers every question and looks me in the eye, and he specializes in what I have. I’m in doctor love. H says he’s not bothered by how cute he is if he treats me right. That reminded me of Love Story. Remember when Jenny told Oliver that her doctor was a Yalie. Oliver was a Harvard man, but he said he didn’t care as long as the Yalie was nice to her.

He wants me to come in for an echocardiogram. He seemed a little surprised that I hadn’t had one recently. They do it in the office. Convenient, huh?

If I can ever get H out of the yard, our bathroom is the next project. No, the rain has not waylaid his gardening. He “will be stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness….” Otherwise, he would have accomplished nothing this spring.

Bella Rum is growing mushrooms in her backyard.

Fill That Hole

H agreed to help me clean a little today. I do not keep this place like I should. It isn’t always easy. I had an incident a couple of days ago. I woke with heaviness and a dull pain in my chest. It was bad enough that it actually woke me. I was dreaming that I was shoveling spadefuls of dirt into a huge trench that ran the length of the front yard of our first house. I remember saying, “I will fill this hole if it’s the last thing I do.” Then I woke with a huge weight on my chest.

I actually thought about going to the ER. I took a shower and washed my hair as soon as I got up. You know I always do that when I think there’s a chance of seeing a cute doctor. Then I situated myself on the sofa and stayed put while H worked in the backyard, checking on me periodically. It finally lessened in the late afternoon when I woke from a nap. I have an appointment with my new doctor next week.  I am happy that I don’t still have the same doctor.

Yesterday was our closing anniversary. We closed on this house one year ago. We didn’t move in immediately, but we started painting and putting in shelf paper, etc. We still love the house. It was a good pick. Sometimes I think that of the four houses we’ve owned, this one was the most appropriate choice for our lifestyle at the moment. Our first house was a pretty good pick, too.

On today’s agenda: a little cleaning, a little laundry and a little spinach manicotti for dinner. There’s nothing like some vitamin K to make your day go wow!! Hope you have a good one, my friend.

The Grand Bedroom Reveal

H is playing golf today. It isn’t supposed to rain, but I’m not convinced. It’s dark and cool. It looks and feels like rain to me.

The kids were here last weekend. What beautiful weather we had on Mother’s Day, but it started raining again on Tuesday. That makes almost two weeks of rain – ideal for planting. 

In the bench area, just outside the backdoor, H planted three not-so-wide Emerald Green Arborvitaes (they mature at about 3′ x 12′). They will give privacy without taking over a relatively small space. I love the way that bed is coming together. It has a secret garden feel. It’s perfect for peaceful reflection, which, believe it or not, I am wont to do on occasion. I read back there, too. I’d like to put a table under the tree.

I found a deal on two very large, glazed, turquoise-color pots at Marshall’s. I planted pink impatiens and trailing ivy in them. I think the pink and turquoise combination will be beautiful. When they mature, pictures will follow. I’ll also post pix of the evergreen bed when H finishes.

I finished the grands’ room just in time for their arrival last weekend. After only a little jockeying over who would get to sleep in the new bed, they seemed to like their new room. I have to say that I was curious about who would snag the new bed. I had a feeling it would be my grandson. I was right. To be fair, he did sleep on an air mattress for a long time. I couldn’t help but notice that my granddaughter uncharacteristically relinquished without much of a fight. I suspect she has a place in her heart for that old bed. Maybe she will like old things when she grows up.

The beds and shelves were white when they were in the blue & white room at the other house, but I was itching to do a black & beige room for the kids long before we left the other house. Even though I liked that blue room, I knew I wouldn’t do another just like it. So, out came the black spray paint, and that white bed turned black in an amazingly short time. Can I say one more time? There is nothing like paint to transform a thing.


H dangled the shelves that I found at Goodwill a few years ago from strings in the garage for me. It made the spraying and drying much easier.
IMG_1234My son made the papier-mâché kitty when he was in elementary school. I found Noah-in-the-yellow-slicker at a thrift store many years ago. He’s holding a string of animals for his ark. The shoes were my son’s. The ladybug was a Dollar Tree purchase from years ago.IMG_1246



The black-framed pictures of the kids that I had in the office at the last house pick up the black and beige theme in this room.

I used the same sheers for the window that were in the blue&white room. IMG_1254

This was another room on a shoestring. I spent very little money on it. The walls are Nantucket Dune from Sherwin Williams – left over from when we painted the living room and bedroom. The big purchase was the new bed, but it was absolutely necessary and a great price. The only other recent purchases were the bedspreads and the three bucks I spent on black spray paint. I’m feeling pretty good about it. And I’m glad it’s finished and that it’s functional. It’s a small room that will sleep three kids and still leave space for playing, reading, puzzles, etc.

This Weekend and H’s War with the Mail Carrier Wages On

The kids will be here this morning. Yippee! I bought a birthday cake for my oldest (10) granddaughter. I used to make birthday cakes, especially when my son was little. I took a cake decorating class. Do you remember those classes? I think they were everywhere in the seventies. I learned how to make 10 theme cakes, how to make roses, etc. Anyway, we love those soft, fresh, store-bought cakes with the sugary icing from Martin’s. H is the only one who doesn’t love them… and maybe my son. He doesn’t seem to indulge more than once. Maybe he practices self-control. I got a small cake. There will be no leftovers.

H is still waging war with our mail carrier. He’s never been happy with her. It’s kind of funny. He’s such an even-tempered guy, but the way she delivers the mail is getting to him. She sometimes leaves USPS packages in the mailbox that we want to mail. H stands in the middle of the street and waits for her to circle the end of the cul-de-sac and gives the packages to her on her way back. They get into a discussion about whether she can take them. She thinks they are UPS. H gets her to scan them and she realizes they’re USPS, not UPS. Oh, my. And remember when she delivered my friend’s mail to my house. That was so strange. My friend has the same house number but lives in another part of the county – not even on a street of the same name. Anyway, he brought in a stack of mail last night that wasn’t for us. It makes me wonder where she delivered my mail?? Every time H thinks she’s getting better, something else happens. And so it goes.

I’ve lost ten pounds. Yay, me! I gave up wine and a bunch of other evil but devilishly good stuff. It’s still a long trek, but I feel pretty good about the big 10. I’ll have to be careful this weekend.

Bella Rum gets only three pieces of birthday cake. Right?

The Washer, Gardening and Health

That fool is way to close to the White House.

I hate my washing machine. It’s an Admiral. Are you familiar with that brand? I was not until we moved here. It isn’t the brand that bothers me, it’s the way it works. It has a safety (?) feature. As soon as you hit the start button, the lid locks. So you cannot add the detergent after the water flows in. What? You have to put the laundry and detergent into a dry machine or wait for five or six minutes for the water to rise to a certain level and go back to put the detergent in the water. I do not like to put the soap in with dry clothes. I have to put a timer on or I get distracted by some other task, and I forget to add the detergent, and the washer runs an entire cycle with no soap. I’m sure there’s a way to override the lock, but I haven’t asked H to look at it.

Over the past few days, H worked on two (mostly evergreen) beds for me, and they are really coming together. We’ll enjoy watching them mature. Last fall, he made a half-moon bed against the fence in the back. I can see it through the kitchen window when doing dishes. It will be pretty this summer, but when it matures, it will be splendid.

He’s made flower beds for me ever since we moved to MD. We were not into gardening at our first house. We were young and knew nothing about it. For that first perennial bed, he broke up the earth on the side of the house. I was immediately hooked. It was the best gift anyone ever gave me. We had phlox, irises, black-eyed Susans, coneflower, butterfly weed, peonies and on and on. Early every morning, I could be found scoping out the sleepy bumblebees or weeding or watering or deadheading or otherwise fussing over that bed. I couldn’t stay away from it. I loved how busy it was. Honey bees, bumblebees and butterflies were always buzzing around. It reminded me of Horton’s Whoville. It was my speck of dust. It was a living organism; it was a small planet, an entire world that existed in my world. Like Horton, I was responsible for keeping it safe. My mornings tending that garden were the closest thing to bliss I ever knew. There was a new revelation everyday: new buds unfolded, sprouts volunteered, weeds demanded pulling. Petals were still heavy with dew when I appeared at the side of the house, and sleepy bumblebees, heavy with pollen, still snoozed on the bottoms of black-eyed Susans. I was hooked.

In other news:

H decided to get one of those “check-ups” in one of those trailers found in parking lots. This one was affiliated with our hospital, and it was in the hospital parking lot five minutes from our house so he figured it might be okay. He took the tests results to his doctor, and she wants to repeat the test for his carotid arteries. She said those parking lot tests are not as reliable as she would like. Hm. She wants to follow-up because the result was “questionable.” He has an appointment for Monday. He is very active and feels younger than he is. He told me that it was a shocker the other day when we were in a restaurant, and a man said, “Excuse me, sir.” Funny how we have our own reality, and who’s to say it isn’t as real as Whoville?

Life Equals Brevity

I spent money like a drunken sailor this month. In my defense, I spent almost nothing the first three months of the year, but much-needed changes around here have forced expenditures. There was a budget (and I stuck to it) for snazzing up the Grand Trio’s bedroom. It was all necessary, and I should have done it long ago. Now that we have the trundle bed, my grandson will no longer have to sleep on an inflatable mattress. I’m pleased with how it’s turning out. I bought a mattress, and I’ve ordered the bedding, but it hasn’t come yet. I kept the old iron bed. Remember? It was white but I painted it black the other day – like the new trundle bed. That was a whopping three dollars and I love it. H calls me the Earl Scheib of interior decorating. I say, never underestimate the transformative and rejuvenative powers of a cheap paint job… or good moisturizer for that matter.

A Job Half Done



Another Job Half DoneIMG_1176

I’m going to hang all the black & whits of the kids that I had in the office at the last house. I will take pics when it’s finished. I know I’ve been lame about photos.

My friend came for lunch last week. Her grandson’s sport is baseball. She found used baseballs at Goodwill and asked H to drill the holes in the balls to make a wreath for her grandson to give to his mom for Mother’s Day. I found some ribbon and made a bow for it. Done deal!IMG_1199

Everything is green and beautiful around here. That means it’s time to start working on the yard. We’re off to shop for plants and shrubs and such this morning. After all the interior spending, we’re only going to do a few things outside. I’d like to redo the bed around the lamp post and add a couple of things in one backyard bed. That’s it! I swear! Oh, and maybe a couple of potted plantings. That’s it!IMG_1209

The kids are coming soon, and we have a milestone to celebrate. My oldest grand is turning 10. Double digits. What a huge deal. The time has flown. On every birthday, I look at them and imagine what they will be like when they’ve lived as many years again. She will be twenty in only ten short years. A decade is only a snap of the fingers these days, and kids change fast. Wasn’t I holding her in my arms only yesterday? Life = brevity, and nothing reminds us of that more than the evolution of a child.

My son got a promotion. They are moving again, but not far. They will be a little closer to us – not much but closer is better than further.

H is fasting for labs this morning. He remembered. Before he went to bed, he told me not to let him forget. I saw a commercial for an OTC drug to enhance short-term memory the other day. At the end of it, it said, “Remember this name!” I promptly forgot it, but I remembered it started with a P. When I finally figured out what it was, I checked online. It’s $50. I decided that most of what I forget is probably stuff I don’t want to remember anyway… like that time my brother held my head under water until he saw the bubbles stop. That I’ll never forget, but I bet he forgot about it as soon as he did it. It probably wasn’t as traumatic for him.

Bella Rum is off to spend money. “Can’t take it with you” is not just a cliché.

A Hill Dream and Other Stuff

I dreamed I was partners with Hillary in a  Pillsbury bake-off contest. I felt inadequate and was at a loss about what to do. Thankfully, Hillary whipped up four yummy-looking desserts. I can only remember one: a blond brownie.

I dream about politicians about once or twice a year. I’m bipartisan about the whole affair. I never know which party will show up. See other dreams about politicians: Bushwhacked Again, Meet the Bushes, No I did Not Dream About the Bushes Last Night.

The trundle bed for the kids’ room arrived a couple of days ago. H put it together. It’s perfect. I don’t know if you remember how I found the bed I wanted online at several stores, but the least expensive one was out of stock. I decided to play the old wait-and-see game. I checked again last week, and there it was. On various sites, I found that bed priced from $197.98 to $400. Isn’t that ridiculous? Delivery was free, and it was at my door in less than a week. To quote James Brown, “I feel good.”

The bedroom window was open while we (that means H) were putting the bed together. A monarch butterfly flew by. It was the first of the season – a hopeful sign.

I know I have things to write about, but I’m forever forgetting. I must start keeping that little notebook with me at all times. When something interesting or funny happens, I always say, “That just made the blog, ” but I can only remember saying that, not what the actual blog-worthy event was. I still remember my birthday, though, and my address and name. If I get lost, I can ask the nice gentleman in the uniform with the shiny badge to help me find my way home. That’s something. Right?

Bella Rum is wandering in the wilderness without her shoes, but she got a great deal on a trundle bed.

Ceiling Fans and Cold Snaps

IMG_1161The pasture first turned green and now yellow with the arrival of the buttercups. The sunsets are becoming more vibrant and demanding of attention. Even if it’s too cold to sit outside, we always remember to watch from the comfort of central heat. 

Yesterday, H installed a ceiling fan in the family room. His foot is better, but I’m surprised that it still occasionally bothers him a little. I think it’s going to be a chronic sort of thing because of the arthritis. I believe it will lie down for periods of time but flare on occasion. Just my theory. I can’t stand it when H’s age-related vulnerabilities show themselves. He acts, moves and seems twenty years younger than he is, and I like that illusion just fine. It’s hard to believe that he and my brother are the same age, born only a few months apart, my brother has severe arthritis. He keeps going, but it isn’t easy.

Anyway. Ceiling fans! What’s not to love? This house has an open floor plan, and I love how ceiling fans create that cool and breezy feeling during the summer months. They help with the electric bill, too. We do most of our living in four rooms: bedroom, office, living room and kitchen. They’re all open to each other, except our bedroom. It has a door, which is only closed when the kids are here, and we’re ready to go to bed. The living area and kitchen are in-between the master bedroom and the guest rooms. The guest rooms hardly see my face except when I change the sheets for the kids. This is an easy-living house. Eventually we will have ceiling fans in every room. The next one goes in the office. It’s the warmest room in the house because it faces south.

I got my hair cut yesterday and she nearly shaved my head. And all my color is gone. I’m a mixture of gray and red. It’s a calico-like look. I don’t mind it much.

H is playing golf. He wore a thermal shirt under his collared shirt and threw a wind-resistant jacket in the car. The days are beautiful, and they smell of potential and rebirth, but it is still unseasonably cool here. Unseasonably? What is that? Nothing is unseasonable nowadays. It’s anything, anytime, anymore. So goes it. You open the door and hang your head outside to see what the day will bring. It was in the thirties last night. That may not seem cold up north, but it’s unseasonable for this time of year down here. The crepe myrtles we planted last fall leafed out last week, but a cold snap burned their tender leaves down enough to frighten even the most ardent shred of ambition out of them, the same story with the hydrangeas. They must be brave about it and begin anew. That happens with humans sometimes, too.

Murder on Her Mind


The redbud trees are blooming once again. I miss mine, but my neighbor has one that I’m enjoying.

They’re back!!

Yesterday, when I stepped into the shower, one of those hairy-looking, hundred-legged creatures was waiting for me. It’s that time of year again. I hate them. There’s nothing worse than a gross, skittering, scurrying, hurrying thing. And to have it in the shower with you!?!! Where you’re barefooted!?!! And bare everything else. And they move at mach speed!! I can’t believe how fast they move.

H swears that he will wipe them and all their kind from the face of the Earth (our bathroom). The job will be easier if he finds their entrance point first, but don’t you love a man who promises to eradicate an entire species just for you. Girls still like that kind of thing.

Our bathroom is the only room they inhabit. My theory is that they’re coming up the drains, but H says no. That’s a myth, and then he followed with some stuff about basic plumbing. Centipedes have only one thing to recommend them; they eat spiders. The battle continues.

Thursday, we made a day trip to Smithfield, checked out a couple of antique shops and stopped for lunch at a diner on the way home. It was a beautiful day. I found another fox-hunting print that I liked. On Friday, I found more pictures in some of our unpacked boxes. Can you believe we still have unpacked boxes? It’s been almost a year. Anyway, the newly-purchased hunt print went in the office.

Last week, in a store across town, I found two pieces of art (one is huge) to hang in our bathroom. They’re both inexpensive, mass-produced things, but pretty and cheerful and will do fine in there: a huge beach/boating scene and a sailboat scene. Cheap means that I don’t have to worry about the humidity harming them.

Our bathroom is the next room to paint. After that, only the powder room and laundry room will remain unscathed. I’d like to get them all done before we hit the one-year mark (May 28), but I don’t like my chances.  The weather is warming up, the grass is growing, and someone is dying to put down mulch and weed flower beds and plant new shrubs and flowers. Once he throws himself into yard work, I will have not even a slim prayer of keeping him inside long enough to paint a tiny closet, let alone an entire room.

Not much going on around here. I’m resorting to writing about painting again.

Oh, yeah. Taxes. It’s time. We’ve begun… No need to bother with these things until the first week of April. Right?


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