Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

Category: Around The House

The Devil Makes an Appearance and Making New Friends

Yesterday, I picked up the things I ordered from Kohl’s at early o’clock. That’s the time to shop there. Then I went to Dollar Tree for brown paper for the only package I have to mail, more Christmas paper, a Thanksgiving card for Aunt Ruby, and birthday paper for the two grands who have December birthdays (yes, my son and DIL did that twice – two kids within days of Christmas).

When the cashier – an older lady with pink, yellow and blue stripes in her long, fly-away hair – finished checking my purchases, she made a strange expression: a mixture of dubiousness and distaste. As if she could hardly believe it, she said, “Your total ends in 666.” (eyebrows raised and voice lowered now) “Would you like to make another purchase? How about a gift for a child for our donation box?” Her face said it all. I thought she was going to buy something for me if I didn’t get something. Anything. I laughed and chose a small doll from the box conveniently placed by the register for those who wish to donate something, and moved it to the donation box. A very small but decent gesture, the devil made me do it. The doll changed the total. The rainbow-haired cashier was visibly relieved, and all ended well.

We’ve made new friends. We met them through Crystal. She lived with them for a few months before she found her house, Brenda and Bob. They are a little older than us, but more social, and I don’t know how to say it. They aren’t necessarily more active than we are – especially H – but they “go” more than we do. They shop and lunch and stuff like that. Brenda loves to shop, and she loves bargains. H and I seldom shop in stores. We shop in stores mainly for groceries and supplies for our endless home projects. I don’t shop with Brenda. Nope. Won’t do that, but they are getting us out and about. H joined the wine club. That means we go to a tasting with them once a month and then for a late lunch or early dinner. Sometimes Crystal joins us and sometimes she doesn’t. I see this continuing. Brenda is funny. A little quirky, but I was raised on quirky with Aunt Ruby next door.

It’s funny how different the vibe can be in different neighborhoods. Our neighborhood, while very pretty, is not all that friendly. They wave, but there’s no reaching out. Only once or twice since we’ve moved here has anyone actually walked over to say hello while we were out in the yard. I’ve accosted a few people in their yards, though. Crystal’s neighborhood is entirely different. We’re always over there doing something, and neighbors come over and talk and stay for awhile. I know more neighbors in her neighborhood than I know in mine. It’s more eclectic. There’s a mixture of young and old. I like it.

H’s Latest Project

Isn’t it pretty?

H’s most recent project was replacing the garbage disposal. It was about time. It hasn’t worked well for a while, but it finally stopped altogether last week. So he got a new one from Home Depot. I wish Home Depot would pay me a nickel for every time I’ve mentioned them in this blog over the last decade or so. The new garbage disposal is quiet. I like that.

It’s been cold as heck: in the low twenties the past few nights. All my beautiful flowers are gone. ūüė¶




Dentophobia, Chilopodophobia and Glossophobia


H is getting a root canal as I write this. I’m glad it isn’t me. I need medication just to get through the door of a dentist’s office. I’m not prone to phobias, but my dentist phobia is crippling. What I would give to overcome it. I’ve yet to find a dentist who can anesthetize my back molars. I’ve been told that the nerves are in the wrong place. I did find an¬†endodontist (root canal specialist) who managed to get my tooth numb before proceeding with the root canal. She shot the hell out of me. It was great. She was great. She talked to her assistant all through the procedure about energy drinks, local theater, restaurants, her husband and her kids. I love entertainment while anesthetized.

After once telling a dentist about my issue, he swore that he would have no problem getting the tooth numb. Even when I told him other dentists had failed, he boldly insisted he could do what no man had done before. He oozed confidence. The whole scene was unattractive for everyone concerned. He couldn’t get the tooth numb, and I ended up screaming like a nutcase and forcibly pulling his hand out of my mouth. It was ugly. I don’t like ugly. I had to allow him to finish. I couldn’t walk out of there with my tooth in that condition. It was horrible, but not the first time or the last. I have a tooth that needs some help right now. It’s a back molar.

I read that 75% of our population is afraid of dentists. I don’t know the study, but I believe it. H is in the 25%. He doesn’t mind visiting the dentist at all. He falls asleep in the dentist’s chair. Seriously. Who does that? He once fell asleep during a root canal. The dentist asked me if he was really that laid back or if he was working on a heart attack. I told him he was really that laid back. The man can sleep anywhere. He attributes this to Vietnam, where he says he learned to sleep when time was available.

I think I’m going to try a dentist who uses sedation.

Another subject that I don’t like.



I’m a little afraid of centipedes, too. Mostly because they skitter across the floor too fast for me to get out of their way. They’ve been known to reach speeds of 16 inches per second. I swear mine are faster than that, but I’d rather allow a hundred of them to crawl over me than go to the dentist. So there’s some perspective for you.

We have centipedes in the bathroom. I’ve mentioned this before. H found some great poison that’s effective for months after only one spray around the bathroom, and it has no smell after just a little while. I’m sure it’s toxic, but… One thing in the homely centipede’s favor, he’s an insectivore. They eat spiders, cockroaches, and other nuisance insects. So that’s a good thing, right? But I don’t care. I hate them more than spiders. One good thing to know: they are prone to dehydration, and using a dehumidifier could help reduce the population. Worth a try. The good thing about November is that centipedes disappear until spring.

Oh, and sometimes they care for their young. Sweet.

Still hate ’em.


I also hate public speaking. I’ve written speeches for others, but I will not give them, not even when the cause is dear to my heart. All of the anxiety symptoms arise if I have to speak publicly: sweaty palms, icy hands, racing heart, trembling. Again, I’d rather let centipedes crawl all over me.

What about you?

What are you afraid of?



Pruning and Bargain Hunting

Yesterday, H wanted to revisit the limbing up of the crepe myrtle. Then he wanted to go to Crystal’s to get some limbs that fell from her pecan tree, and take the whole mess to the dump.

He did the pruning; I did the highly sensitive work of “suggesting” which limbs he should prune, and dragging the limbs away and stacking them.¬†After I scratched the heck out of my hands, I found some gardening gloves.

I was going for the umbrella-look, but I think it may look more like a lady getting air blown up her skirt. ¬†Many crepes have attractive bark and interesting trunks. I like to expose them. They’re beautiful.¬†So what do you think? An umbrella or does she look a little vulnerable?

When we got to Crystal’s, H decided to replace another landscape timber along her driveway. He does one every time we go over there. I went inside, but I didn’t read my book. I watched the news instead. I couldn’t stop myself. It’s like watching news about another country, another planet. I keep thinking, this isn’t us. Right?

Crystal has recently nudged H into bargain hunting: sales, coupons, etc. Especially groceries. Bargain hunting is her avocation. She’s a single woman with a mortgage and only one salary. She’s careful with money, and is obsessed with a good deal. On the other hand, H has always compared prices online for big purchases, and he might read the grocery store flyers occasionally, but endless perusal of sales and coupons in the paper and online coupon hunting have never been his thing, but yesterday, he went to the grocery store and came home waving his receipt in the air like a kid with his first sports trophy. He spent a little over $80 and got $25 off, and it was all stuff we normally use. Nothing weird. I was impressed. My only caution: don’t use a coupon to buy something you don’t really need.


What We’re Reading Now

H is a doer of the highest order. He always has something he needs to do, something he wants to do, and something he has to do this very minute. He keeps a list, and he attempts to works the list, often getting sidetracked by something else he realizes he wants to do while on his way to handle the original¬†task he wanted to do. He’s the perfect person for retirement. He is never bored and never understands people who are.

However, this doer gene prevented him from becoming a motivated reader before retirement, but he has time now. He will never read as much as I do because I’m insatiable and lazy. That’s a great combination for a reader. I have no problem hunkering down with a good book and ignoring all of humanity.

Anyway, all this to tell you that Audible is offering a 2-for-1 credit sale – two books for only one credit. It isn’t a site-wide sale. You have to choose from a list of eligible books. H chose the Bourne Identity.¬†I chose the award-nominated Thriller¬†Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff. I think I’ll start mine today.¬†I’m looking forward to January and February when I can read to my heart’s content.

It’s been a nice weekend. We went for a wine tasting and dinner with friends Friday night. We went to a fall festival sponsored by Crystal’s company yesterday. The weather was perfect. It’s overcast today and threatening to rain. This house has a beautiful roof, but it also has a few angles, and the gutters have to accommodate those angles. Our lovely but obnoxious locust tree drops tiny leaves that are small enough to get under the gutter guards. They collect in a couple of the gutters’ sharp corners. I think we will have to take that tree down eventually. It presents a continuous maintenance issue.


Revisiting Crystal’s Water Issue

Last week I wrote about Crystal’s rain/flood issue. She thought it was a downspout problem, but H thought it was coming from her neighbor’s backyard, possibly the above ground pool? When Crystal saw her neighbors in their front yard, she approached them and asked if they could give her any insight about it since they’d been there for years. She asked if it had been a long-time issue, if the sellers of her house had ever tried to remedy the problem, etc.

I guess it would help to explain that the street slopes downward. Crystal’s neighbor’s house is on higher ground than hers, and the neighbor on the other side of him is even higher, and we all know that water flows downhill. After blaming the issue on the neighbor on the other side of him, saying that his entire backyard used to flood because of their runoff, he told Crystal that he had installed a French drain (a corrugated tube that runs underground). Essentially, he redirected all the water from the other neighbor’s yard to the grassy area between his driveway and Crystal’s driveway. Since his driveway is higher, guess where the water goes?

So the problem is not coming from the downspout, but rather the neighbor’s backyard. H did a few things to improve the situation… at least for now. Cleaning Crystal’s culvert was the first thing because all that mud and water and yuck runs into it, but it doesn’t all run out. You don’t want all that water from his backyard to back up because it can’t get through the culvert. He’s going to put gravel at the openings to inhibit the growth of grass, etc.

Things seemed to improve during the last rain, but I’m sure it will be an ongoing maintenance issue. If we get a serious gully washer, and the problem persist, H will run a French drain from the neighbor’s backyard to Crystal’s culvert, which is what the neighbor should have done to begin with. The water now makes a trench along side his driveway and washes over Crystal’s driveway. Not the best situation for either of them.

Oh, the pleasures of home ownership.

You Know Your Life is Boring when…

Life is boring when the most exciting thing you have to write about is the opening of a Publix in your neighborhood. Martin’s sold their stores in the area, and Publix moved in. (spellcheck is changing the X to a C in Publix). Every time.

So we checked it out yesterday. Yes, this is a second paragraph on the Publix experience. (spellcheck and the X in Publix have reached a compromise. spellcheck will stop harassing the X if it can underline the entire word in red) The parking lot was packed and the store was humming with eager customers and friendly employees. You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a free sample. Gotta love an opening. Even though Publix inhabits the old Martin’s store, there is not a whisper of Martin’s ghost rambling around. Everything is brand spankin’ new. Everything is freshly painted, the floors shine like a mirror, and never-used carts abound. Some things were kind of pricy: asparagus $4.99 a pound, and ‘not’ organic bananas 55¬Ę a pound. I don’t usually pay more than $2.99 a pound for asparagus, though sometimes it’s higher, but not 5 bucks. Loved the color scheme: shades of soft browns, like creamy coffee. It was an atmosphere conducive to spending a lot of time and money. I bought two 30-ounce jars of Hellman’s mayo for $3.00, buy-one-get-one free, and they gave me a pretty reusable bag. As of yet, I have not checked out the new Wegmans. Big times ahead. OMG Spellcheck is unhappy with Wegmans, too. Wegmans is a store name that has no apostrophe, like Marshalls. Why do apostrophes get no respect anymore?

Crystal texted me today that water had washed across her driveway, taking a lot of the gravel with it. Her sidewalk was covered in mud and gravel that used to be in the driveway. We had rain Wednesday and a little yesterday, but not slanting, pour-down, frog-drowning rain. We’ve had this much rain before, and she didn’t have a problem. She thought she needed downspout extensions for the gutters to redirect the water. H said that would be fine, but that’s not what caused this mess. He thinks her neighbor’s – not the crazy woman who won’t cut her grass, but the couple on the other side – above ground pool may have something to do with it. Not sure but worth investigating. There was a trench of water running from their side of the backyard fence all the way to Crystal’s gravel driveway in the front. When we were leaving Crystal’s last night, we saw the husband walking around the backyard. Checking out the pool? Who knows? Crystal will talk to them this weekend. At least these neighbors have shown no signs of mental instability. That’s always a plus.


Snakes, be Gone

Though I’ve mentioned insomnia, nightmares, walking in my sleep, etc., I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned restless leg syndrome (RLS). It’s a common neurological movement disorder. Do you have it? More women have it than men. Something to do with our hormones (no doubt). Anyway, that’s why I couldn’t sleep last night. Twitchy.

H mentioned that he needed to go to Lowe’s for Snake-Be-Gone. I said, “Isn’t it a little late for that? Won’t they all be going to bed for the winter soon?” Then he told me. He saw another snake wiggling away from our doorstep! Good grief! So he wants to make sure they¬†brumate somewhere other than our yard, that they make it back to last-year’s den, and don’t have to stay with us until they become active again in spring. That means it’s time for another Snake-Be-Gone application. I’m onboard but…¬†You put it around the perimeter of your property to keep them out. It seems to work, but what if there’s one or more in your yard when you put the application down. Won’t they get trapped in your yard?!

Every time someone leaves the door open, you can hear me shouting, “Don’t let the snake in.” Why do they like our doorstep so much?

This is my oldest grand. She’s the serious one, not usually smiley, but she looks pretty happy here, doesn’t she?

The kids came down for the weekend. We took the Grand Trio to a pumpkin¬†pickin’ place. There were baby goats, horse riding, and other activities. We went on a hayride to the pumpkin fields. We came home and had a cookout. Crystal came over and ate with us. Very nice weekend. The youngest said to me, “I go to school now, you know.” She seems to have adjusted. Good thing. This is only beginning.

Spring Cleaning in Fall

It was a rough weekend sleep-wise. I experienced horrible non-sleep and horrible sleep peppered with crazy dreams, a little moving around, and then plain old insomnia. I was sluggish all weekend, but productive. Interesting, huh? Sometimes when you’re motivated, the mind overrides the body.

I got up Saturday morning and had a serious urge to clean the pantry (scary music here). Upon opening the door on Friday, I had detected a horrible smell. For a not-very-large house, it has a good-sized pantry. I think it’s what sold H on this house. When we moved in to this house, he took it upon himself to put things away in there. I never knew where anything was. I could never see any rhyme or reason to it (maybe in his mind). He always knew where everything was. Not me. There’s a lot of stuff in there. We have enough pasta to take us to 2050. Organizing saves money. Really. Now we won’t buy what we don’t need, and things won’t go over their expiration date. I hate waste. I think we have enough beans, too. Glenn Beck would be proud if it were only in an underground bunker.

I wish I’d taken a before picture so you could fully appreciate my fabulous organizational skills. I am nigh onto genius in this area. I can’t read a map, do higher math or remember the names of anyone I’ve met since 1989, but give me something to organize, and I will stun and amaze (I wish H would allow me in his garage). The offending odor turned out to be a rotten onion. Now it smells like herbs and spices in there – a little strong but not like a rotting corpse.

The other thing I got all aquiver about was limbing up the maple tree in our front yard. It’s a pretty thing, but the limbs were too low. You couldn’t even see the front door. It was team work. H did the sawing and clipping and lopping, and I dragged the limbs away and piled them up for him to cut into 4-foot sections later, and I also gave advice on which limbs to cut… Think about the episode where Lucy trimmed her Christmas tree, and you’ll get the picture.

My next intention is to prune the crepe myrtle, which is in bad need of a facelift. I’m itching to do it, but we have to wait until the weather is cold enough to ensure that it will not put out new growth after we prune it. I don’t want to stress it out. If I can stand it, we’ll wait until late winter. If I can’t stand it, we’ll do it as soon as it gets cold enough.

The guy comes to do the roof today: replace the ridge vent and take care of the four leaks. I’m going to the grocery store and my favorite farm stand and then to Crystal’s house where I will read my book. She’s at work. H will stay here and listen to the pounding. I hope they can finish the job today.

Have a good Monday.


Pot Gardening and Creepy Vines

I have to show you photos of my front door/steps. I know it’s boring, but just rush through. They are beautiful, or so I say.

Before photo. June 11. After only a few weeks of growth.
The rest of these were taken in the last week or two.¬†I know it looks like there’s no space to walk up the steps, but there’s plenty on the left side, and another railing to hang on to when the sweet potato vine bites your ankles.~

In this one, you can see where I helped the variegated vinca climb the railing.

Those are SunPatiens peeking out from behind the sweet potato vine. First time for me. I like ’em.~

Notice that apron of green that overflows the bottom pot of white geraniums. Creeping Jenny is its name. H calls it creepy Jenny after one of Dad’s caregivers, the one we learned was stealing some of his meds.
Sweet potato vines could take over the world. This combination was a winner. It stood up to the brutal southern exposure, but only because I watered it every single day, except three times when I forgot, and they looked terrible, horrible, bad each time. You must get someone to water it when you go on vacation. An application of Miracle Gro about once a month helped a lot. And water, water, water!!!

I’m mostly into pot gardening these days, though H still loves gardening in a big way. For him, it starts with the first mowing of the lawn, a couple of loads of mulch and a trip to the garden center in spring. It ends with seeding, pulling up annuals, blowing leaves and putting everything to bed. We’re slowly sliding into the “putting everything to bed” period.

There was a little coolness to the air yesterday morning. I felt like the horses must feel when they get frisky on crisp mornings. I blew the leaves off the patio, which needs doing every day this time of year. I watered my impatience. They are so beautiful in their last gasp. I pulled my herbs out of the pots, and H dumped the dirt for me. They did so well this year: dill, oregano, basil, rosemary. Then I sat and listened to my book for a while. Later, I came in and decorated my house for fall. However, Porch Pup is still waiting for his fall outfit.

My friend Pasty is coming for lunch today. We’re having BLTs and a homemade chocolate chip cookie. I’m going to freeze the rest and eat only one every night for dessert until they are all gone. How much you wanna bet I can do that.




So What’s Happening Around Here

It’s Monday again. That keeps happening. It seems to me that Monday arrives faster than it used to, and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday… The weeks are flying and time is passing, and I can’t stop it or even slow it. I can almost feel the wind as the days flap their wings on the way to the next day, and the next. Most of my days are good now. Solidly good. I just want it to go on forever like it is now. I’m a realist. So I know that things change, but I’m aware, I’m awake, I’m enjoying.

New Friends
We went to a wine tasting on Saturday. We’ve become friends with Brenda and Bob, the couple who gave Crystal a place to stay during her “homeless” period – between selling her house and closing on a new one. They have a membership at a local winery. For a fee, you get a couple of tastings a month, a percentage off when dining in their restaurant, and a “free” bottle of wine each month… or something like that. I may not have it exactly right. They invited us to be their guests. We tasted eight wines. It was interesting. I prefer dry wine, but I found myself liking their fruity wines, and thinking of friends who would like them. Good gift ideas. Brenda and Bob really wanted us to join. H is more interested in joining that I am. I think he’ll get a membership and I’ll go along. I enjoy the social aspect of it. I can also be H’s guest, and for a small fee, I can do the wine tasting if I want to.

Arts and Crafts
I took my summer wreath down this morning and removed all the flowers and leaves. I kept the grapevine base that I’ve had over a decade, and used it to make a new spring/summer wreath. It is so beautiful. I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures. I already put a black plastic bag over it, and H took it up to the attic. I replaced it – on the front door – with my fall wreath. I can’t wait any longer. I have to start the fall season. Porch Pup is ready to get on with it.

Results of my Fruit Fly Experiment
Earlier in the summer, I mentioned how I was going to experiment with trying to get rid of my fruit flies. ¬†I went at it on two fronts. First front: I bought a veggie wash and started washing the fruit before putting it in the fruit bowl. Bananas were the worst offenders. I learned quickly to wash them gently. If you are not gentle, it leaves bruises. Second front: I bought a wire cover to place over the bowl. Did it work? I’m not sure which of these two things helped the most, but our fruit fly population dropped significantly. We only saw a couple of them all summer. I will do this next summer, too.