Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

Category: Son

Taxes and Food Talk

It’s raining and the windows are open from the tops so I can hear it. I love the sound of rain.

H does the taxes. He finished and filed them on Tuesday. In the past, there have been times when tax time was a thorny issue for us: him because he likes to procrastinate, and me because I want it over and done. He likes things open-ended, and I like things completed, finalized. Both Myers & Briggs say so. Neither is necessarily bad, just different. I respect deadlines. To H, deadlines are only a suggestion. He wants to explore all his options before finalizing anything. I’ll never forget – before filing online was a twinkle in his daddy’s eye – the time that H and I waited in a long line of cars outside the post office on April 15 to hand off our taxes to a post office person as we drove by… only minutes before midnight. He said, “See. On time.” Well, this year’s taxes have been filed well before the deadline, and everyone can relax… um, that would be me. If you’ve been paying attention, you know that H was never not relaxed.

I’ve nested the past couple of days. I did tons of laundry. I stripped beds, washed sheets and towels, and clothes, etc. I dusted, cleaned bathrooms and deep cleaned the kitchen, and scurried  all over this place doing this and that. I seldom do all that at once, and I don’t always love it, but I still get in the mood once in a while. It feels good to get everything just right in your house. I kind of enjoy puttering around and fussing with this or that, and I’m too cheap to pay someone to do it, but I will gladly do that when the time comes.

The kids gave H Blue Apron for his birthday. They send everything needed for your chosen meals – vegetables, meat, pasta, herbs, etc – and the instructions for preparation.  The kids know H is a budding chef. He has such enthusiasm for it. I’ve never had the love for cooking that my mother, father and siblings have/had. They were all good cooks, my mother and brother the best of the lot. But now that H enjoys it so much, I enjoy being in the kitchen a lot more than I ever have. It’s more entertainment than work for me now. We’ve already chosen our meals, and I just got an email from Blue Apron reminding me that our first dinner will arrive today. I’m interested to see how this turns out.

My son cooked H’s birthday meal. I was impressed. I honestly didn’t know he could do all that. I should have known, huh? But H and I usually do the cooking. He has grilled for us before, but there was all kinds of goodness in this meal. He grilled rib eye steaks, sweet potatoes, a mixture of vegetables: red and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions. Then, separately, he made the most delicious mushrooms drizzled with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, and herby yumminess. H is going to make those again. Men love to grill, don’t they? And I say, have at it! I’ll do my part: eat and gush appropriately.

When the kids were here last weekend, I dreamed that my DIL was pregnant. After they got home, she texted me that she felt nauseous all the way home. The power of suggestion is a mighty thing… or…

Neighbors, Grands and a Day Trip

We’ve had a lot of wind. A few days ago, when H was taking the trash out to the curb, he noticed the neighbor’s (don’t know his name) house across the street. They have a trampoline, but it was no longer in the backyard. It was on top of the neighbor’s car. H started trying to remove it when two neighbors (husband and wife) walked by with their dog. H asked the guy to give him a hand. When they were in the middle of it, the neighbor came out of the house, and the three of them managed to wrestle it off the car. The neighbor was very appreciative.

A little struggle, a  little need, it builds camaraderie. It’s how neighbors become neighbors. Everyone is pretty independent here. We seldom have an opportunity to meet our neighbors. When my son was young, and we moved into a new neighborhood in Maryland, I made tons of friends quickly. We all had a built-in commonality. Friendships were easily made.

Later the next day…

The kids were here this weekend. Saturday was a gorgeous day, sunny and in the upper seventies. We spread a blanket on the front lawn under the maple tree, and brought out a few lawn chairs so we could watch the kids ride their bikes. The “trampoline neighbor” was on his way somewhere. He slowed down as he drove by and yelled out that the kids could play on their trampoline if they wanted. Of course they wanted. Nice.

We are on our way to a small seaside town today. March is H’s birthday month, and he decided he wanted seafood for his birthday dinner. It’s a nice drive, and the food is good. I didn’t have to buy him a gift because I gave him the lawnmower. Now, you know that’s not really a gift. It was more of a “he needed it so he got it” kind of thing. We’re not big on gifts. As we get older, we get things as we need them. I used to hear older people say, “I don’t need anything.” Now I get it.

He used his lawnmower in the backyard for the first time a few days ago. He loves it. It’s self-paced, which is a little different from self-propelled. He walks behind it, holding on to the handle. As he walks forward, the mower goes forward, and the mower goes at the speed he walks. In other words, it’s self-propelled, but it isn’t just one speed. It goes as fast or slow as he wants to walk. Fancy pants! Self-paced technology has probably been around for years, but this is the first mower we’ve bought in over 15 years. We experienced the same thing when we bought our new car a couple of years ago. We were like babes in the wood – all those new gadget-y thingies. My son mowed the front yard for H this weekend. Like his father, he likes the exercise. I should only be so industrious.

So that’s what’s happening this Monday morning. Now it’s time for Morning Joe with my morning joe, then off for a day trip.

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.

The Scales, The Powder Room and The Grippers

lady-on-scaleThe scales are finally back to where they were before the kids came for a visit. I think this 80/20 thing is good, but 90/10 sure would be faster for reducing. :/ I’ve been at this since late September. It’s been a long slog, albeit a comfortable one. It may have been slow, but I have lost 30 pounds – nothing to sneeze at. All in all, I’d say this is the best way for me. Dr. Heartthrob emphasized taking it slow. He can’t say I haven’t done that.

H is finishing up his Jan/Feb projects painting our tiny powder room red. I’m not sure why this house even bothered with a powder room. It has a guest bath that’s accessible to everyone, but there’s a little powder room tucked in just around the corner and across from he laundry room. I think it’s probably more comfortable for guests because it’s private back there.

grip [grip]
1. a grasping or clasping.
2. to secure and maintain a tight hold on; seize firmly.

A couple of days ago, I had the grippers. I don’t think it was an intestinal virus. I think the sour cream I ate at dinner had gone over. It tasted okay, but it’s the only thing I can think. H and I ate the same dinner except for that. It was the end of the container. I should have thrown it out. I blame it on that “waste not, want not” philosophy that a lot of us were taught by Depression Era parents. I still remember when we moved back home from Dad’s – after being away for years – and my son cleaned out my pantry for me. He pulled up the trashcan and tossed every single thing in it that had an expired date. Let me tell you, I took gas on that one, but he probably kept me from killing H and myself. I guess I didn’t pound that “waste not…” thing into his head.

A Grand Visit

What a great weekend for a visit with the Grand Trio. It was in the seventies and sunny with the bluest skies you’ve ever seen. It was a three-day weekend because of Presidents’ Day, so they didn’t have to leave until Monday.

The meatloaf and mashed potatoes went over just fine with my grandson. That kid makes me feel great. No matter what I cook, he likes it.

The oldest grand will turn eleven soon. I’ve smartened up about the older ones. I got her to show me what she wanted online. The little one is still pleased with anything you give her, but the older they get, the more selective they become. You can’t just pick up a doll with magnetic clothes or a stuffed doggie anymore. She chose something very inexpensive (I didn’t even know what the thing was). I wanted to give her more than what she chose, so her mom took mercy on me. She told me I could contribute to a larger gift they’re getting for her. That makes it so easy for me. I think this is the way to go as they get older.

img_2332Lilou loved the bike that H found for her at Goodwill. It looked brand new, and it even had a basket on it. H bought pink handlebar streamers, and that was all the fancying up it needed. A man who can choose pink streamers and knows all the names of all the Disney princesses is a rare find, and she knows it. She loves him so much. If he goes to the bathroom, she instructs me to tell her as soon as he’s finished. When it was time to leave, she told him she didn’t want to go.img_2334

It came equipped with a princess license plate: wrong state, correct title.

Since it was such a pretty day, we took them to a nearby park. On the way home, out of the blue, Lilou asked, “Do you know what would make me happy?” Impersonating the intensity of a talk-show host, her dad said, “No, Lilou, but we’d love to hear. What would make you happy?” She said, “A puppy!” Still the baby – for now – but it’s fleeting.

I did not see a blow-up swimming pool this weekend, but I did see bare feet. And no one caught pneumonia.

Bare feet in February!

Today is detox day: clean food, exercise and lots of water.

Another One Almost Gone

grand-trio-xmas-morningMy DIL took this one.

What a nice visit with the kids (the adult ones too). The oldest grands are growing up. Sometimes it’s easier than other times to see the changes. This was one of those revelatory visits. They are in the process of baking into good people. It’s fascinating to watch.

My son got a promotion a couple of weeks ago, and that feels good. No matter the age of our children, it always feels good when they progress, reach, stretch. We still get that good feeling – like when he was ten and scored a goal. Without a doubt, it’s his accomplishment, but H and I always feel a part of it.

Last night, my son and DIL treated us to Olive Garden. I ate carbs in the form of delicious shrimp scampi. I so enjoyed it. I ate every shrimp, every strand of angel hair pasta,  and every drop of garlicy butter sauce.

I think today is their last day. They will head to my DIL’s parents’ house tomorrow afternoon. They will celebrate New Year’s together. There’s always an adjustment after they leave. The energy level drops like a dud rocket when they back out of the driveway. H and I will start removing the decorations and making way for a new year.

No snow for Christmas. It was 68º yesterday. I’m ready for hot soup and cold snow. January, what will you bring?

Gee, the Traffic is Terrific

img_1918our most recent puzzle – Snow Birds by New Yorker Puzzle Company

It’s feeling like Christmas – cold enough for snow, but nothing yet. That brisk, fresh feeling in the air seems right. I’ve hated some of the near balmy Christmases we’ve had in recent years. I want it to be freezing cold like it was when I was a kid, when, if you knew what was good for you, you better wear your mittens and hat.

I spent the past week doing Christmas cards and wrapping presents. I only have a few gifts left to wrap.  I’m loving how my house looks this year (photos soon). I only made slight changes, probably no one would even notice besides me, but I count.

Last Wednesday, we drove across town in Christmas traffic to buy H a sorely needed new jacket. When he found something he liked, an elderly man, who moved slower than a snail with a bum leg (snails don’t have legs, but you get the drift), waited on us. He was nice and offered to let us use his extra coupon because we’d left ours at home, but slow, you know? We drove back home through more Christmas traffic, and when we removed the coat from the bag, we found that he’d forgotten to remove the security sensor. By now it was 5:00 pm. We drove back through Christmas/rush-hour traffic to get the sensor removed. Great fun. And that’s when I learned that I have serious problems riding or driving in a car at night. It’s been a while since I was in heavy traffic at night. I started out driving. I made it to Kroger, about a mile from our house, and pulled into their parking lot. H drove the rest of the way, but it was still frightening because everything was distorted. I’ll never, ever try to drive at night again.

We made our annual Christmastime day trip to the historical town of Occoquan, Virginia on Friday.




I wish I’d thought to stand back and take a shot of the entire town so you could get a feel for it. Any blogger worth her salt would have. It’s a small town with shops, restaurants and its own local town government.

We ate lunch at the Occoquan Inn, where we always eat. I got a real man’s sandwich, “The Innkeeper,” a hot sandwich on a huge, toasted hoagie roll, piled high with beef, caramelized onions and cheese. I enjoyed! And I enjoyed the other half for supper because I couldn’t eat all of it in one sitting.

Later in the day, we decided to try dessert at a Cafe we’d never tried, The Blue Arbor Cafe. It was incredible. H and Patsy got the bread pudding, and I got warm chocolate twin brownies with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and hot fudge drizzled on top – all made on site by the owner. I was not dieting. Ha! It was worth it. I haven’t had a brownie in three or four months. After all of that, with much chagrin, I decided to be exceptionally good yesterday. Good thing. I hit a new low on the scale this morning. So all the debauchery didn’t do too much damage. Whew! That’s the 80/20 plan. Eat healthfully 80 percent of the time and enjoy those special moments 20 percent of the time.

My son’s company Christmas party was last night. The CEO is married to a famous TV super heroine of the 70s. He and my DIL were invited to sit at their table. Fun stuff. They looked so sophisticated, all dressed up. Like adults.

Bella Rum is using her keen perception and Amazonian warrior skills to problem solve while looking fabulous in her costume. 

Staying Put or Moving On – Roots or No Roots

Are you a staying-put kind of person or a moving-on kind of person?

On Saturday, in 100 plus degrees and dense, soggy air that turned the slightest movement into an underwater sport – slow and wet – we drove up to see the kids. I’ve never been so grateful for A/C. I thought about packed-up covered wagons and sweating individualists, and how they may have carried a special treasure from a grandmother they would never see again, or other small pieces from their former lives, but mostly basic requirements for survival, trying desperately to keep a little of the old life while thirsting their way to a new one. The West never would have been settled if it were up to me. I’d still be in the East… which I am.

The kids moved to a new city (a little closer to us) and a new job for my son – with the same company. My daughter-in-law is a professional mover by now. She would make a good nomad. She can make a home wherever they land. Those kids are not of-the-earth. They have shallow, fibrous roots that spread quickly just beneath the surface and can transplant, if not easily, successfully. They are flexible; they bend when the winds demand it. That’s a requirement for many of their generation. They must live where the job is instead of finding a job where they live. It’s the nature of many careers now. I’m not built for that. I like to get comfortable, count on things, grow deep roots and stay put. They accept change, and seem to thrive. A good thing because that’s their lot.

I still visit the place I grew up. Most of the people I knew then are gone now, but the place, the river, the land never moves. It still feels solid to me. My brother, aunt and cousins still live there, and that keeps me connected. My son once took the Grand Trio back to our old neighborhood in MD where he grew up. My grands will not have one single place to return to, a single house to point to, a place where they can say, “This is where I grew up.” But they will have family; their parents and grandparents will embody home for them. They may have to rely on their own resilience, but don’t we all? Even though the place we grew up may stir our memories, our resilience ultimately springs from those who raised us and knew us and taught us, and from our own insides.

The grands were happy as clams in their new digs, proud of their rooms and curious about their treelined and yet-to-be-discovered neighborhood. And, yes, I went outside – in the heat – and watched from a lawn chair as they rode their skateboards down a long hill and trudged back up with seemingly no ill effects from the brutal heat. At what age does imperviousness to heat and cold come to an end?

We soon took a welcome reprieve to watch a “scary” movie – one of the four-year-old’s favorites. She loves scary movies. She’s so little and sweet and loves to be scared to death. She never admits to being scared, but her little fingers begin twining and untwining as the music intensifies and the action builds to the scary parts. She comes honestly by this love of getting the dickens scared out of her. I’m a lover of roller coasters and spine-tingling  books and scary movies. It’s so much fun when the part of your brain that controls fear is tweaked while another part of your brain knows there is no real danger, only perceived.  She also wanted so very much to tell me what was going to happen next. My son kept telling her not to tell me. She kept saying, “But she doesn’t know.”

Exactly! Roots or no roots, we never know what’s next. It’s all a scary, wonderful or not-so-wonderful, crazy ride. It’s everything, it’s all things, it’s all jumbled up, but one thing for sure, we don’t know what’s next.

Recent Goings On

We are loving our ceiling fans. We turned the A/C to a higher setting and just keep the fans going. The house has that airy, breezy feeling. It feels like we’re on vacation. The office is the only room without a fan. That’s because it used to be a dining room. At the moment, it has a chandelier, but not for long. As soon as we catch a rainy day, H is going to install the new fan.

His most recent project is the patio. He’s leveling it.  In the previous post, I wrote about how the roots from the tree that grows beside it (no one should plant a tree like that next to a patio) have made it look like a bridge after an earthquake: wavy, as if a giant came along and shook it out like a scatter rug. It’s a work in progress, but he’s having a lot of success. It’s a tailor-made project for him. He loves puzzles, and he’s built right (mentally) for tedious work. I would never have the patience.


We’re thinking about dying and sealing it after he finishes leveling it. I think it would spiff it up. We are big on fixing what we can… if we can. It saves a lot of money.

My son and his wife gave H a Fitbit last year for his birthday. Their steps are recorded on the Fitbit site where they can keep track of who’s ahead. My son challenged him to see who would get the most steps this weekend. H said, “The stinker must have a race this weekend.” My son runs and of course, he gets tons of steps when he has a race which gives him an advantage. H wanted to cut the grass on Friday, but waited until yesterday so his steps would count for the challenge. He also worked out yesterday. Today he is working on the patio, but he will still get steps because of the wrist action. They are so funny.

I’m off to the patio to drink my coffee and read my latest book: a good-twin-not-so-good-twin psychological concoction. Have a nice Sunday, you guys.

Life Equals Brevity

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

A Job Half Done



Another Job Half DoneIMG_1176

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

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

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

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

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

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

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