Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

Category: Around The House

So What’s Happening Around Here

Time
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 bow. 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.

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Fall, Dream, Home Maintenance, Nice Person

Fall

The weather is getting nippy in the mornings and in the evenings after the sun sets. Is it too early to dig out the fall decorations? I love fall so much. I always try to push the season. I bought a beautiful witch a couple of weeks ago. I should say that her dress is beautiful. Her face? Not so much. A well-dressed witch is a fine thing.

Dream

I dreamed about bio-daughter. LOL I went looking for her, and I found her house. She was not home. I took my clothes off and went swimming in her pool. She came home and found me like that. I can’t remember anything else, but I can easily see how my subconscious self drummed this one up. Crystal’s next-door neighbor has a pool. They drained it a few days ago and the water ran into her yard. So that was on my mind, and of course, bio-daughter was on my brain for obvious reasons. Not sure about removing all my clothes.

No. Just No.

H is finally getting around to replacing the faucets in our bathroom. His faucet decided to break so we have to replace both of them. I first got these big, flashy, modern things. I don’t know what I was thinking. Every now and then I get it in my head that I’m fancy. It never works out. They looked like they belonged in a hotel bathroom or a space station. Talk about overkill: too big, too modern, too everything. They were so tall I would probably have knocked my two front teeth out when spitting.

Nice Person

My sister makes the best coleslaw in the world. Me? Not so much. I had some barbecue in the freezer that I made a few months ago. I wanted coleslaw to go with. While we were out, we went by KFC on the way home. We went through the drive-thru. When we got to the window, the lady had the wrong order. She quickly turned away, said something to someone, and our slaw appeared. She handed it to H and said, “Enjoy.” H said, “How much? ” She said, “Nothing. I got it mixed up. You had to wait.” We didn’t really have to wait more than two seconds, but she insisted. The world is (as Sarah Palin would say) frickin’ falling apart, but there are still nice people. You gotta love that about our planet.

Wind and Rain

I’m listening to the television in the family room as I write this. It’s all about Irma. My sister lives on the west coast of Florida. I called her yesterday morning. As of then, she and her husband had decided not to evacuate. I’m concerned and I told her so, but her husband thinks they will be fine. They’ve boarded up, and filled the gas tank, but a full tank of gas won’t help if they wait too long. They probably already have. It takes a full tank of gas for them to even get out of FL. I’m going to call her in a little while to see if they’ve changed their plan. I  know it’s hard to leave your home, and her back is causing some pretty stiff pain. Evacuation would be awful, but I hope they’ve made the right decision.

Speaking of high winds and rain, our roof has a few leaks. We started with one leak, then another, then … H thought the problem was the ridge vent that was installed only a few months before we bought the house a little over two years ago. I, as always, went directly to the worst case scenario, and believed that the entire roof needed replacing. The house is 17 years old. I figured it was a 20-year roof that was going early. We got recommendations from several neighbors who were pleased with their new roofs. We called for estimates.

After looking at the roof and going up in the attic, the guy said, “Okay. Do you want a new roof? Cuz I can give you a new roof for $12,000 but this roof is a thirty-year roof and has 12 to 15 more years in it.” LOL He then told H that not only was the ridge vent the cheapest one on the market, but it was the wrong one for this roof, and that they used the wrong nails to install it. H had already seen the nails coming through the roof, but the guy showed him again.:) So it’s going to cost a little over $2,000. That’s to install a new ridge vent and to patch all the leaks. Still not cheap, but better than $12,000.

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.

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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How to Build a Butterfly Watering Hole

When butterflies are only tiny babies, their mamas tell them to be leery of deep water. They have wimpy, little legs. They just do, but we don’t judge them. They have six legs, and each leg has six joints. That’s kind of neat, and they can smell and feel vibrations through their legs. We can’t do that. However, getting a drink of water without drowning can be a challenge. If you want to help the wimpy-legged butterflies, and who wouldn’t, you can make a butterfly bath. 
Years ago, we bought this (too) small birdbath when we were on the way to visit my aunt. I loved the look of it. There was a garden sculpture nursery-type place that we passed every time we visited. We finally stopped to check it out, and the prices were incredible. We bought this very shallow birdbath and Porch Pup on the same day.

As a rule, I think birdbaths should be a little deeper. This one has rarely attracted birds, but I thought it would be perfect for butterflies. Also, I think it was in the wrong place in the yard – too close to where we sit. H moved it about a week ago, and we decided to make it into a butterfly bath.

It is now surrounded by flowers, near food for the birds, and close to a shrub that provides cover for birds. Not only do the butterflies like it, but it has finally become a popular spot for small birds. Yesterday, I watched a house finch who was very involved in a splash fest. If you want to help the lovely butterfly, here’s a recipe. 

How to Build a Butterfly Watering Hole

Ingredients

1 shallow birdbath or any shallow container (shallow is the key word here) You can try the trays for clay pots, the tops of some containers, etc.

A few rocks. You can use river rocks, pebbles or other rocks.

Water

Optional: Orange halves or other fruit.

Directions

Place rocks in container. Add water, but do not submerge the rocks. If you use smaller rocks, you can arrange them in clusters to make islands.

Note: Zinnias attract butterflies. They are bright and flat, which gives them a landing pad. They like that. Here’s a list of flowers that attract butterflies.

Now our small birds and butterflies are happy. There’s nothing like killing two birds with one stone. *groan*

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Enjoying Summer and A Visit with The Grand Trio

I can’t stop reading. It’s got me by the throat and won’t let go. H, who is not an obsessive reader – more of a worker – is almost as bad as I am lately, leaving his yard work at intervals to sit on the patio and read, then returning to his abandoned wheelbarrow and shovel to give a half-hearted effort at finishing the job before he comes back to prop his feet up again. It’s nice to see him relax a little.

I can’t remember when I’ve dipped myself into summer and not come up for air like I have this summer. I think it’s the weather and the ubiquitous breeze that rolls in off the pasture. I can’t get enough of it, and I just know I’m going to be sorry for writing that. I’ll open the backdoor one morning soon, and the cursed humidity and suffocating temps will have arrived, but until then…

Yesterday was a hammock day if ever I saw one. I actually fell asleep in my lawn chair, my feet propped up, a breeze gently moving strands of my hair, and the Boston-accented voice of the narrator droning on in my ears. I could not keep my eyes open.

We drove up to see the grand trio Sunday. What a good time we had. We all went out for lunch. It was a beautiful setting, and we got the best table in the place with the most beautiful view.

We sat on a terrace overlooking a lake as we ate and talked and watched big, fluffy, low-hanging, white, cumulus clouds drift by in a sea of deep blue sky. Restaurants and shops and fountains and beds and pots of vibrant flowers surrounded the lake, and a choo choo train drove around it all. There were as many old people riding it as young. A merry-go-round sat on the other side of the lake, and  paddle boats dotted the water along with swans and ducks.

The kids went for a ride on a paddle boat – a mighty dragon boat – with their mom. They found out that paddling those boats was a lot of work, even though they took turns. Sweating and red-faced, they all looked like they’d done hard labor in a work camp when they returned, but they recovered quickly with snow cones. While they sweated it out on the lake, H and I had margaritas in the shade as we watched. This grandparenting stuff rocks.

This one, in her pretty dress, was the only one who looked fresh as a daisy when they returned. The older grands and Mom may have done all the paddling, but she worked hard on that snow cone/icy.

Just so you don’t think I’m a total slacker, I did replace a broken toilet seat this week, and I did a load or two of clothes and dust mopped. Oh, and I watered and fertilized my pots and potted some dill. Golly, when I put it all together like that, I sound almost productive, but don’t be fooled. I’ve had my feet propped up and listening to a book most of the week. It was a good week.

…nothing exciting to add…

Things have been kind of regular around here lately. We’re back to “normal.”

H decided he wants to power wash, fill the cracks, and seal our aggregate driveway.  Have I mentioned this before? Because he started power washing it weeks ago, then came rain, then my niece’s move, then more rain and then vacation. So he’s trying to make progress. It’s a long and tedious job. The power washing (hopefully) is the most time-consuming part. You cannot imagine how stained that driveway is/was. The neighbor down the street sealed his last summer, and it looks good. He told H what to buy for the job. So… time will tell, probably lots of time, because rain is expected the next three days.

I’m in the midst of reading a horribly graphic book. A couple of the descriptions are a little strong even for my taste. It’s a James Patterson book, The Murder House. As usually happens in Patterson books, a serial killer is on the loose. This one has a penchant for spearing his victims. I haven’t read Patterson for a while. I’d forgotten how unsettling his novels are sometimes. I had to skip over a small part of one passage. What a wuss. But sometimes you just don’t want to put something in your brain that will roll around up there for years. I’m not generally attracted to happy-ending type novels. Well, I do like happy endings, but only after half the characters have been revealed to be intrinsically evil, betrayers of some variety or other, or end up on a slab in the morgue. Then I want to know who dun it, and I want justice. I do love a good psychological thriller, and Patterson knows how to write them, but don’t go there unless you can take it.

I haven’t read a happy-isn, relationship-type book for a very long while. I don’t like them much, but I decided to try a “beach” book for poolside reading on vacation: Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand.  Three women, two ex wives and a widow, arrive at a cottage on Nantucket, believing they are there only to spread their newly dead (ex) husband’s ashes in the ocean off Nantucket. Unbeknownst to them, he’s left his beloved cottage to the three of them, a place they’ve all spent time with him. Not the most plausible story, I admit. They arrive on the tiny island with varying amounts of luggage – literally and figuratively. He was a famous chef after the fashion of Anthony Bourdain. He was a handsome, edgy, troubled, bad boy, the type for whom women love to derail their lives. It was one of those what-if scenarios, and it was easy reading for public places. I watched young girls doing cartwheels on the beach and looked for dolphins simultaneously without dropping a stitch in the story. No one was speared… except metaphorically.

for the love of routine

We are finally and slowly ebbing back into our former life. It seems like ages since we’ve settled down on the couch with coffee and the time to yell at Morning Joe. Although, there hasn’t been much yelling lately. We’re on the same page. That happens once in a while. I’ve seen a hundred political perspectives over the past week that I thought I’d write about, but it’s impossible to choose. Did you hear that Trump broke a record on Tuesday? He went sixteen straight hours without tweeting. Maybe more, but I heard it at the sixteen-hour mark. I can’t believe they didn’t send out a search party to look for him.

So we’re recovering from vacation, and we’re doing after-vacation errands and chores: unpacking, laundry, grocery shopping, doctor appointments, cutting the grass, watering the flowers, etc.

I ran out of one of my scripts for my lungs about a month ago. The doctor would not refill it until I went for an appointment. This annoyed me. I thought he should give me enough to make it to the appointment, but I think it was the fault of the person I spoke with on the phone, not him. Anyway. I had to go off the meds cold turkey. Guess what? I was absolutely fine, but I got the chest X-ray and kept the appointment anyway. I told him how well I’d been feeling. He said, “Well, I think you fixed yourself!” Ha! He said, “If you can do this in the midst of pollen season, then I agree with your diagnoses.” I’ve come back a long way from a few years ago. I never would have thunk it. Neither would my doctors.

I gained 4.5 pounds on vacation. It was ugly, y’all. I was a wild woman. The hotel offered a breakfast buffet every morning: bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits, milk gravy, grits, pancakes, fruit, juice, coffee. Of course, there’s no requirement to eat all that. Let’s just say that I ate my share, and we went to a couple of great restaurants at night where I ate prime rib, fried seafood, garlicky & cheesy mashed potatoes and croissants drizzled with honey. My vacation can only be described as a foray into excessive self-indulgence. I needed saving!! Thank God we can’t afford to stay too long.  I’ve already lost most of the 4.5. 🙂

H is making the coffee and it’s past time for MJ. Wonder what’s new today? Maybe we’ll learn that Flynn disclosed to Trump’s transition team that he was under FBI investigation before Sally Yates ever mentioned anything, and even before Trump appointed him. No… that could never happen.

My Niece’s Move, My Brother’s Knee Surgery, H’s Niece, My Cousin, Doctor Visit

I’m at home today, so I thought I’d jog the blog muscle a little. Our life has picked up the pace recently.

As they come on the market, we’ve done a few drive-bys on houses in my niece’s price range, and we’re helping her move the last of her things to her storage unit on Saturday. It’s amazing how much easier it is to move if you have the time to do it. She started early since she isn’t waiting for a close date on another house. We helped her last Saturday and the Saturday before that. We finished before noon both times. A few big things remain: a wardrobe, sofa, washer and dryer. They will be a little awkward, but shouldn’t take long. A friend of her’s will help H, and H has ramps and a dolly and a hand truck, and straps. He is very good at this. My niece is so much fun to be around. I will be glad when she finds a house. She’s as picky as I am. So…

My brother has severe arthritis. One of his hips was replaced 17 years ago at age 53 (he needed it long before he did it). The other was replaced 14 years ago. They both need to be replaced again. Both of his knees are shot, so his doctor asked him where he wanted to begin. He chose his left knee. That was three weeks ago. He and H are the same age. My brother seems so much older.

I went to Marshall’s a few days ago, and hit the jackpot on tops. That never happens. I’ve complained that I don’t look like I’ve lost any weight. My DIL and niece both told me that my clothes were too big. I hate to buy clothes while I’m still losing, but I have nothing that fits and we’re going on vacation soon. I think I went a little crazy because when I tried things on in the dressing room, I could see a big difference. Not there yet, but progress. It felt good. I found white and black linen pants in my closet that I didn’t take to Goodwill, and that was helpful.

H is making noises again about climbing to the top of the huge tree in the front yard, and getting rid of a bad limb. I over heard him telling my son. It’s too high for him to reach with his pole trimmer.

We ran into H’s niece in Marshall’s. That was a delightful experience. I haven’t seen her in years. She’s as beautiful as ever, inside and out. H’s sister-in-law is turning 80 soon, and she invited us to a dinner for her. She told us that H’s 82-year-old brother (her father) injured himself while on a ladder replacing a window on the second floor. The window was resting in the frame but not attached when it fell, shattered and cut him badly in several places. There was an ER visit. It must run in the family.

A cousin I haven’t heard from in years called me yesterday. We caught up on family that I haven’t seen in ages. She told me that one of my cousins, while working on the roof of his barn, fell and broke his pelvis, one arm, and a few other things. His cell phone was at the top of the ladder. He had to climb back up the ladder to call for help. His recovery was lengthy and laborious. Can you imagine?

I went to my doctor Tuesday. She was pleased because I’d lost another 10 pounds since my last visit. A new nurse was shadowing the other nurse to learn the routine. She was showing her my info in the computer. She quickly went down a list of things, and all I caught was “fall risk assessment.” It made me feel old for a minute, but I know how much better I feel. I think it’s my cousin’s, H’s brother’s and H’s fall risks that need assessing, thank you very much.