Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

Category: Politics

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.



Three Things that Annoy Me

Idiots and Fools Abound

Did you hear about that interoffice email an anonymous Google engineer wrote? He offered the idea that we don’t see women in higher positions because those positions require “long and stressful hours?” No? I guess we just can’t handle all that big, bad stress. Who knew?

Maybe you missed the email story because you’ve been pondering the ultimatum Trump directed toward North Korea today, warning them not to make any more threats against the United States or they will “face fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Like the world has never seen?? I’m assuming President Trump learned about Fat Man and Little Boy during his salad days at the private NY Military Academy where he claims they gave him “more military training than the Army could.” That can only mean one thing. He’s talking nuclear. He’s thinking he’s finally going to get to use those big-ass toys. I’m thinking that talk like that is best done in private where a short, fat, crazy person can save face, and the rest of us can go on watching trash tv where wealthy, shallow, cosmetically-altered housewives drive Lamborghinis. It’s our right as Americans.

Distracted, Irresponsible People

We ran a few errands today. We were sitting at a red light when a car zoomed past us and ran a solidly red light, not changing from caution, but solid RED. Crazy time. I figure she either ran the light on purpose or was distracted due to texting or talking on her phone. People need to stop that crapola. Someone who used to read this blog lost a grandchild because a distracted young woman was texting while driving. I still think of her. Such a needless tragedy. You may as well open up a bottle of wine and stick a straw in it while driving. It wouldn’t be a bit more dangerous.

This Cleaning Thing

Remember that post I wrote about cleaning your cell phone? Well, I cleaned mine. I made the solution, sprayed it on a soft, lint-free cloth, and rubbed until it was squeaky clean. Mind you, I’d never cleaned my phone before. I’ve had it for two years. Do you think I like admitting that? It’s been one week since I cleaned it, and my phone is as filthy as it was before I cleaned it. How can that be? And that’s my whole problem with cleaning. You have to keep doing it.

Word of the Day

bellicose: inclined or eager to fight; aggressively hostile; belligerent; pugnacious.

Sound like anyone you know?

The Fall, Scarborough, Kushner

Petunias Go Before A Fall

I put some pots of flowers on the front steps this year. The front of the house has a southern exposure (you can tell by the over exposed photo below), so I have to water them every day. There’s a railing on both sides. When going up and down the steps, I keep my hand on the one not visible in the photo. There are no obstacles.

Photo taken a while ago, before they all started blooming.

Earlier this week, H came out while I was watering. When I turned to come back up the steps, he took my hand. I got to the top step, and we dropped hands. He started for the curb to get the garbage can and recycle bin. I started into the house. I thought I was on the landing, but I was still on the top step. Should’a looked down. I took a nose dive onto the landing. It felt as hard as brick… um… that would be because it is brick… all brick. I only abraded the pads of my hands, bruised my left elbow and scraped both knees. Brick is very unforgiving, but I escaped practically unscathed. It was not lost on me that I’m always worried about H falling off a ladder. It appears that I should worry ’bout myself.

Trump Makes Strange Bedfellows 

Joe Scarborough, co-host of Morning Joe, served in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001 as a Republican. Tuesday night, on Stephen Colbert, he announced that he’s changing his party affiliation from Republican to Independent. So he’s in the same club as Bernie Sanders now. I can’t put my finger on it, but I know there’s a joke here.

Short-Term Memory Loss

It’s hard to imagine that a 36-year-old man forgets a meeting with an attractive Russian-based lawyer, which happens to take place only a few weeks before he is required to disclose said meeting on a government disclosure form that explains at the top of the page that less than full disclosure is a felony, punishable up to five years. (I wonder what the punishment is for a run-on sentence)

Now, if he was older, I could sympathize with Kushner. I’m sure I’d give some vague answers if I had to list several people I met at a Pampered Chef party two weeks ago: there was the one with the great pixie cut, the tall girl with the cute shoes, the woman with one green eye and one blue (I worked with that woman at Aetna). These days, I would probably remember two out of three, maybe three out of four on a super, good day. But if I was 36, and if I knew that failing to disclose a meeting was a felony, I think I could conjure up a meeting I had a few weeks prior, or, here’s a thought, get the information from my brother-in-law. Hey, Jr., shoot me an email with the name of that hot Russian lawyer, would ja?

Kushner has now added over 100 foreign contacts to his disclosure list. I’ll have some of what he’s taking for memory enhancement.

I just realized I still remember seven out of ten of the items on my short-term memory test that I took over six years ago when applying for long-term care insurance: glass, mother, paper, captain, silver, rope, orange. There should be a trophy for that.

Weather Report

Hot as Hell


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.

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.