Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

Category: Politics

Seeing Through the Superficial Stuff

I had to do labs yesterday, and we had some errands to run. We went to BJ’s (a big box store) to get parmesan cheese, and ended up with everything but parmesan cheese – two brains, zero parmesan cheese. Phrase you will often hear around here: If it’s not on the list, it’s not in the cart. Because it’s true.

I didn’t watch much of the hearing yesterday, because we were out and about, but I listened to it on the car radio. That right there goes to show you how committed to the art of self-torture I am. While H was in Hope Depot (our second home), I was in the car listening to the hearing when Patsy texted me. Here’s how it went.

Patsy: Are you watching the hearing? It’s a hoot.

Me: I’m listening in the car while H is in Home Depot. We have a crazy country right now.

Patsy: Impeach

Me: This morning, I heard a talking head say that there are mumblings among Republicans in congress about getting rid of him.

Patsy: You better erase that. Don’t want to get in trouble.

Me: When I look down at my phone, I see my reflection and a load of wrinkles around my mouth. Why didn’t you tell me? I don’t see them in the mirror. I guess because I don’t wear my glasses. (I only have readers)

Patsy: You are beautiful to me.

Me: Note to self: Don’t wear glasses.

Patsy: LOL

Me: Gotta go. H is back.

Patsy: Later Gator

It should be said here that Patsy, my longest and dearest friend, is  a conservative, and hates to talk politics. I convinced her to vote for Clinton once, and she never listened to me again after Monica. We talk only a little politics, and almost always the conversation is instigated by me. It would be more accurate to say that we talk around politics rather than about politics, but we know each other throughly, and decided a long time ago that we love each other. It’s too late to change horses now, and who would want to?

I saw/heard enough of the hearing to know that it was partisan. This is what we don’t need. We all have more in common than not. How have we gotten to this place where we see our differences first? I’m so lucky to have a friend who sees past my wrinkles and my politics. And that goes for all of you, too: all of you who are, and those who are not of my political persuasion, but choose to read the bits and pieces of my little world anyway, and somehow manage to see past our differences, straight through to the threads that bind us to a common experience. It’s a warm and good thing we do with this blogging thingie.

Another subject…

I recently dreamed that I was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. When I woke, I remembered I’d gotten a reminder to make an appointment for a mammogram in the mail a couple of weeks prior. When I originally read it, I made a mental note to make the appointment, but it promptly went wherever the parmesan cheese went. It’s comforting to know that my conscious brain and subconscious brain are all about teamwork, and that even if my conscious brain refuses to do its part, my subconscious is clicking on all cylinders. I’m off to get my mammogram later this morning. 10:30am to be exact. See how I remembered that? Huh? Huh?

Crazy like a FOX

My son called last night. We talked about family and politics. He and his wife are the only two in my family that I discuss religion or politics with. My son mentioned that he watches CNN most of the time now. “H,” however, says he watches either CNN or MSNBC, but every time I turn the other television on, it’s on FOX. He watches one of those FOX shows featuring all the legs. He claims he only watches because he likes to hear what all sides are thinking.

My niece sold her house and is moving closer to me. This makes me very happy. She’s staying with friends until she finds another house.

H bought a new lawnmower.

The handle folds down, and it sits upright for storage. Kind of cool. Our old lawnmower will not make it though another summer, but it lasted 16 years. That’s a pretty good run.~

Getting a new lawnmower is a sure sign that he’s turning his attention to the yard, and  that Jan/Feb projects are at an end until next year… for the most part.

After we hung up from talking to my son last night, I got a text from him saying that Lilou started crying after we hung up because she didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. So he took a video of her telling us goodbye, that she loved us and wanted to come see us. That one grabs you by the heart and won’t let go.

Blue about Blues and Cuts at the EPA

After removing the catch and rebaiting the crab pot, a waterman tosses it back in the river.

The EPA could see a 25% budget cut that would include removing 3,000 staffers, and regulations for clean air and water are being dismantled. This list covers only a few things that will be cut.

  • Chesapeake Bay cleanup budget cut from $75M to $5M
  • Great Lakes cleanup project funding cut 97%
  • Greenhouse gas elimination funding cut ?
  • Water and air quality grants cut 30%

I’m not panicking yet. This is not a serious budget. It can’t be. I’m banking on congress pushing back. These issues are important to a lot of constituents. Don’t get me wrong. There will be serious cutbacks. It’s no joke, but this budget would cripple these projects and many more. Tell me they won’t do that.

Of these projects, I know the most about the delicate ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s struggling, and it’s bounty has diminished shockingly since my father was a waterman. Pollution is a huge factor. Four generations of my family have made a living from the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers connected to it. We’ve loved it, depended on it and been awed by its beauty, its bounty and its many moods. Mostly we’re grateful for it, and once you’re grateful for something, you can’t take it for granted anymore.

The scientific name for the blue crab is Callinectes sapides, which means savory beautiful swimmer, and that they are. 

Juvenile Blue Crab

A cleaned blue crab. Almost ready for the frying pan.

Juvenile blue crabs live in clumps of eel grass and widgeon grass that grow along the shores of the lower Bay. It’s the perfect haven for them. Without healthy grasses, the young and vulnerable blue crab cannot survive. The grasses are struggling, as is the blue crab. Vigilance is our duty or we could lose something that we can never reclaim.

Don’t even get me started on the Kepone incident at Hopewell, Virginia. Life Science operated only 16 months in 1974 and 1975, but what a horrible catastrophe it caused in that short time. It poisoned its employees and polluted the rivers and Bay, causing unimaginable damage to the environment. It polluted the oyster beds for years, including my father’s bed. It was a bad time for watermen. Many had to leave the river and find employment elsewhere while others were left to eke out a living. They actually closed the rivers for periods of time. No one was allowed to work. It nearly crushed an industry. Companies have to be held accountable. They will not police themselves.

I could go on forever, but I won’t. We all have our own loves and our own heartaches. This is my heartache today.

Valentines and Politics (sort of)

We were in Dollar Tree for something and saw all the valentine cards, and all the people choosing valentines for their valentines. So we stood there and chose cards for each other. We are not romantic types or big on gift-giving. We’re pretty good to each other all year long… except when we’re not. With every year that passes, it’s easier to be good to each other. Egos have settled down, you finally really know each other (to the extent it’s possible to know another person), there are no trust issues. If there ever were, they’re long gone by now. We can still muster up an attitude occasionally, but it is short-lived and infrequent. H said the other night that neither of us has improved that much, we’ve just accepted each other, so each of us seems better to the other than we really are. That’s probably true. And who else is going to take us at this late date? There is that.

Can I just say, to those of you who’ve followed this blog for a few years, our practically brand spank’n new refrigerator is sick. It isn’t even two-years-old, and this is the second time we’ve had to call someone out. It’s always the ice maker. We lived in our other house thirteen years, and we had to buy three – that’s 3 – different refrigerators. One even caught fire. We always get a warranty now, so this will not cost anything other than the inconvenience. It’s definitely classified as a first world problem.

I just read this:

“The terms third-world and first-world are often potentially offensive code words. Except where their original meanings are meant, they are best avoided in formal communication and in texts meant for diverse audiences.”

What? If it’s a code word, the code is written in invisible ink for me. I cannot keep up. It originated during the cold war to describe countries aligned against the Soviet Union (NATO) and now means capitalist/wealthy countries. Right?

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the definition has instead largely shifted to any country with little political risk and a well-functioning democracy, rule of law, capitalist economy, economic stability and high standard of living. Various ways in which modern First World countries are often determined include GDP, GNP, literacy rates and the Human Development Index.[1] In common usage, “First World” refers to the rich nations of the world. Source: Wikipedia

Lately our country is a teensie tiny bit questionable on one of those requirements up there: “rule of law” and maybe “well-functioning democracy” (emphasis on well-functioning). Oh lordy, I’m back to watching the news. It’s fascinating, and educational, and well, fascinating. Then there’s that Russian spy ship off the coast of Delaware.

Added Later:
I found this: “first world” or “third world” can be interpreted as xenophobic or ethnocentric because they imply third-world countries are inferior.

Good grief, I said nuclear sub… no, no, NO. Russian spy ship! That’s it.

A Hair-Raising Experience

So about the hair. As salons go, the place was clean and ordinary. No frills. Country music was playing. Cindy is in her fifties and nice, and quiet. A serious person is she. I came to this conclusion because I couldn’t make her laugh with my witty banter. No, I have not considered the possibility that my witty banter isn’t all that witty. But why would she have to laugh anyway? She does not. The hair is what matters. Her cut was an improvement – not stupendous, but better – and I think I may like it even better when I do my blow-dry. She used five different products on my hair. I will wash it today.

Her next client, an elderly lady wielding a walker, arrived while Cindy was still cutting my hair. Cindy had to stop cutting and help her get through the door. The lady looked at me, looked at the clock, and Cindy said, “You’re a little early.” The lady looked perplexed, and started talking about how she was shaking because she hadn’t eaten (diabetes?). She seemed a little confused.

Then she said she could have sworn her appointment was at noon. I told her that at least she’d gotten the right day, which is better than I did once. Cindy told her that she had an hour before her appointment, and should get something to eat in the shopping center. As Cindy helped her out the door, she complained that she’d broken her arm in two places and reckoned she’d break every bone in her body before it was all over.

As we were finishing, she returned with a hotdog that she’d gotten in the shopping center. Cindy helped her negotiate the door again, and told her she could sit at a small table that was between two chairs. As she was situating herself, she suddenly snorted at a magazine on the table and said, “I can’t stand the sight of him. I can’t eat if I have to look at him!” I unwisely asked, “Who?” She said, “Trump!” I quickly told her I’d been avoiding the news and especially politics recently, and turned to pay my bill and skedaddle. She said, “Well, you don’t think I watch it on purpose, do you?” LOL I tell you, I have a wide streak for discombobulated, older ladies who speak their minds. I have an aunt who has lost her filter, but it’s more than that. I also subscribe to the Rodney can’t-we-all-get-along King philosophy with strangers, but when I turned back to Cindy, she didn’t have an all-we-are-saying-is-give-peace-a-chance kind of expression on her face. Whoa! She did not subscribe to my philosophy. Shaking with anger, she said, “I voted for Trump. He’s my president. I’m proud to have him for my president. I didn’t vote for Obama, and I can’t wait until he’s gone.”


She continued, but I can’t remember all of it. Her face was rippling with emotion. She was so furious that she couldn’t recognize that the lady was a little off-center, and I don’t mean politically. I signed my receipt, and left, thinking that now that woman had to get in Cindy’s chair and let her take scissors to her head. As I was leaving, I heard the older lady say to Cindy, “You voted for who?”

Talk about hair-raising experiences. I came home to H who only shouts at the television every morning, but keeps it inside his own house.


The first thing we do, let’s kill all the pollsters. Isn’t that what Shakespeare really meant to say?

I wonder how FBI Director James Comey felt last night when President-elect Donald Trump said he wasn’t sure if he would or would not fire Comey. Heads-up, Director Comey.

I watched on Tuesday night. The whole event was made less painful by texting with my D-I-L. When the handwriting was on the wall, we both gave up and went to bed. Of course, acknowledging exactly when it was over was different for some of us than others. H kept telling me it was over long before my D-I-L and I gave up, threw in the towel, rang the bell… ding, ding, ding, ding. Game over. Please vacate the arena.

So we move on….

… to Thanksgiving where there will be relatives of all political stripes. That should be interesting for a lot of families this year. As always, we are going to my brother’s house. My aim is to get drunk… on carbs. My long-planned strategy involves an attack on all the beige foods I’ve avoided for the past few months: mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing/stuffing, bread, etc.  And when that one relative starts talking politics, I’ll head to the dessert table to find that incredible cranberry bread pudding with hard sauce that my cousin always makes. If all else fails, I’ll be sitting with Aunt Ruby. She loves me no matter who I vote for, and always talks enough to keep everyone else quiet. Of course, there was that one Thanksgiving she wanted to know how often I went to church.

In other areas of forward movement…

I’ve started my Christmas/birthday shopping. Remember, we have two December birthdays. My grandson was born on the 21st and the littlest one on the 28th. Amazingly, in only a couple of days, I put a huge dent in it. I made one trip to brick-and-mortar stores and did the rest online. Except for one birthday gift, I’m down to stocking stuffers. I always try to finish before Thanksgiving. I hate shopping with the crowds or trying to find something that isn’t in stock.

Today, the repairman is returning to fix the fireplace. H finally called them. They’ve had the part for over a week but forgot about us.

There was severely serious frost on the pasture yesterday morning.

Bella Rum is dreaming about sweet potato casserole and corn pudding.

The Most Important Day of the Year

H and I are married 47 years today. We usually celebrate our anniversary quietly, and this year will be no different. He’s at the grocery store buying ingredients for a pot of chili. We’ll make it this afternoon. It isn’t exactly on our diet, but it’s our anniversary and election day. I figure that chili is versatile enough to work for celebration or consolation. You never know when you may need both.

I always love election day. I’ve decided to feel good about the process today. It’s taken a beating lately, but no matter eleventh-hour FBI announcements, accusations of “rigging” or attempts of an external entity to influence our election, the process will go forward. This evening, when the eyes of the world turn toward us, H and I will be settling down in front of the television with steaming bowls of chili. There’s nothing better than watching your vote be counted except believing that it counts.

The Home Stretch


Our Youngest on Halloween

I can hear H moving the ladder around and climbing up on the roof. If we ever divorce, it will not be about another woman, it will be about that ladder and his penchant for high places. He’s cleaning the leaves that gather in the many angles of this roof. It’s a handsome roof with lots of interest, but those angles are excellent leaf-catchers.

I’ve heard so many metaphors over this past year. Some of them were incredibly descriptive and accurate and even funny. I wish I’d written some of them down. I heard one this morning. It’s graphic but accurate. I’m paraphrasing. — This last week of the race is like one long, dry heave. We’ve vomited almost all the disgusting stuff up, and there’s nothing left but the heave.

Have you ever heard that we get the leaders we deserve? We choose them to represent us. They come from our ranks. We educate them, grow them, nurture them, foster their ideas, beliefs, and choices. They are us. God, I hate being one of those old people who talks about the decline of our national moral fiber. I’m not a negative person. Really. I only want you to be prepared for the water pressure to drop on November 9 when we all take that collective shower.

Now let me tell you something that isn’t tragic. I recently figured out that I’m allergic to kiwi fruit. My ears itch after I eat it. Is that the silliest thing? It’s only a few minutes and not bad enough that I would refuse to eat it under any circumstances, but I probably won’t put it in my fruit salad anymore.

The Grand Trio is coming this weekend. There’s nothing like innocence to make a body believe in possibility.

“K” is for Kourage

threekingsWe Three Kings – by artist James C. Christensen

We voted yesterday. We were the only two there. It took only a couple of minutes. It would be hard for me to wait in line now. I’m hoping that by election day I’ll be better than today, but I didn’t want to take a chance.

Just before the ablation on Thursday, I’m having (submitting to) a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE). They insert a probe with a transducer (microphone) down the esophagus. The whole procedure will take about forty-five minutes. 

I’m a little nervous about the TEE even though the ablation is more invasive. I think the thought of the TEE bothers me because I have to do my part… sort of. They will medicate me, and I’m happy in all sorts of ways about that. I have no participation in the ablation, the success does not depend on my skills or abilities… like swallowing a microphone and a flexible tube. I guess you could say I suffer from performance anxiety.

It reminds me of my first grade Christmas play. My mother helped me practice my line. I had it down cold, but each time I said it, I’d stop part way through, go back to the beginning, and say the whole thing again. It went something like this. “K is for three Kings who… pause… K is for three Kings who came from afar – to welcome the stranger – and were led by a star.” I know, but it rhymes. Okay?

The big night finally arrived. 

Behind the curtain, Mrs. Keifer herded us into a straight line across the stage. She gave each of us a large piece of poster board with a letter on it.  All of the letters of the alphabet were represented. Dressed in our finest, we stood there, each of us holding our own letter, each of us knowing a line that matched our letter. We could hear the low hum of voices beyond the heavy curtains, and then it was showtime. The curtains opened to friends and families. The child holding ‘A’ stepped forward and said his line and stepped back in line. B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J and finally K. I stepped forward and started my very practiced line. “K is for three Kings who …pause… K is for three Kings who came from afar – to welcome the stranger – and were led by a star.”

I choked. Too much pressure. 

I remember being concerned that I’d probably embarrassed my mother, but when we found each other after the show, she seemed no different than usual. I don’t recall any big declaration about how bright and shiny I was. Parents didn’t do that so much back then, but she was pleased with my performance. I could tell. After all that practice, she didn’t care that I hadn’t gotten it just right. It was fine, I was fine, this was fun, but let’s go home and get out of our finery.

K is for Kourage.


I’ve taken a nose dive into my family tree, or as H calls the process, “ancestering.” “Are you in there ancestering again?” He poked fun at me for a day or so, and then he was bitten by the bug, too. We’re both doing our trees. So far, we’ve found a woman who delivered five babies over seven years and died at a young age, leaving all five babies motherless, a couple who died on the same day from “severe influenza” and were buried on the same day, and two suicides – one in each of our families. One was a male. His death certificate read “gunshot to the brain” and the other was a “gunshot to the chest.” The latter was my cousin. She was very beautiful, wealthy and young – only forty-seven – no children.

During the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, most of my mother’s side of the family managed to eke out a living by farming. Peanuts were the big crop. Virginia still has wonderful peanuts. My father’s side of the family were watermen, teachers, machinists, carpenters, boatbuilders, etc.

Women had so many children before contraception was widely available to them. It was nothing for women to have five, six, seven, even eight children during their childbearing years and sometimes die at a young age. This doesn’t even take into account the outcome for the babies. One of my female relatives lost three babies out of eight. Though availability of contraception changed the lives of women in much of the world, reading about my ancestors made me think about how the lack of access to contraception is still an issue for women in parts of the world.

About 222 million women who want to avoid pregnancy in developing countries are not using a modern birth control method. Birth control use in developing countries has decreased the number of deaths during or around the time of pregnancy by 40% (about 270,000 deaths prevented in 2008) and could prevent 70% if the full demand for birth control were met. — Wikipedia

So that’s what I’ve been doing with my time in these waning days of summer. The weather has been hot and muggy. Staying inside with a project is not the worst thing a body could do, but I have opened the backdoor onto a couple of almost-cool mornings this week. Fall is still out there somewhere, but it’s coming. The perennial garden is looking a little worse for wear. Everything is past it’s prime, but, like a doddering old man, it still has something useful to offer if you look closely enough. It’s time to stop deadheading and just leave the seed heads on the Black-eyed Susans and Cone Flowers for the birds. We can wait another month before putting everything to bed. No need to rush. All in good time.