Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

Category: The Husband


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.


Where I Almost Die

Our lawn service says we are late on a payment, but I paid it. I wrote the date that I sent it, the amount that I sent and the reference number on the bill, but it does not appear on our bank statement. However, H found it in the “receipient’s history” online. The reference# and the check# were there. It says it was processed and gave all the information on it, but our lawn service has not received it. It makes no sense. I believe the bank screwed up (duh!). Today, we will talk to the bank. Do banks talk?

I’ve made great progress on my Christmas shopping. I’ve finished for the two youngest grands. They are both easy. The youngest is easy to please and my grandson is interested in specific things. He knows what he likes.

I haven’t gotten a single thing for my oldest granddaughter. She’s nine. She’s artistic and likes crafts. I saw a porcelain painting kit. I dunno. Maybe. I also thought about one of those old-fashioned potholder looms. I found a quilted carryall: very inexpensive, cute and huge. I thought I’d fill it with crafty things: sketch books, pencils, markers and papers and such. Any suggestions?

Okay. Here’s the part where I almost die! No kidding!

I parked my car in Kroger’s parking lot. An older man in a big, old, green truck started pulling into the space beside me. I could see that he was not on the correct angle to pull in unless he stopped and backed up and straightened his truck. I thought he would do just that, but he kept coming. I got nervous. He kept coming toward my door. Closer and closer and closer… until I threw my arm out the window while holding my hand up in the universal hand sign for “STOP” but he kept coming. Closer and closer and closer… he advanced on me.  I started to scream. I swear, y’all. Really scream… like at the top of my lungs screamed… repeatedly…. STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP!!! He never even thought about stopping. He came… I’m not exaggerating… within an inch of smashing in my door. I was right on the other side of that door. I could not believe it. Then I could see that he was going to open his door right into mine. I started my, car and quickly pulled out before he could do that. Scared the bejesus right out of me.

I’ve been out of the house doing errands for several days. I’m staying home today. I think it may be another frustrating day: dealing with the bank and the lawn service, getting dental and vision insurance, and talking to someone about putting walls around what is now the dining space so we can have a private office… so my mess isn’t visible from the front door.

Another conversation with H…

He walked up behind me while I was looking at PJ’s online…

H ~ Whats that?

Me ~ It’s pajamas with a pig on the front.

H ~ No?

Me ~ Yes.

H ~ Are you sure?

Me ~ I’m not wearing anything with a pig on it.

H ~  I think it’s a short-necked giraffe.

Me ~ …

Still “Moving” Along

imageboxes in bedroom

We packed all day yesterday, and we’ve finally made some serious progress. Today is our personal deadline. Even though we don’t physically move until May 22, we close tomorrow. We’d like to get everything packed that we will not need to use between now and moving day because we don’t want to waste time packing after we close. We plan to spend the time between the closing and the move to paint a couple of rooms in the new house. So I’m not finished with paint brushes yet.

I cleaned out the medicine cabinets yesterday. You would not believe the crappies I found their. Half of it was long expired: Gas-X: expiration date – 02/98, Contac: expiration date 06/94, and one tiny, distorted, squeezed-within-an-inch-of-it’s-life tube of Neosporin Ophthalmic Ointment: expiration date 10/86. That last one was for my son. When he was a kid, he got conjunctivitis every time he turned around. Do you realize that I had to have moved that prescription at least two times over the last 29 years? I moved it to Maryland and back again in 2002, and then I kept it for another 13 years. There’s something wrong there. I decided that 29 years was enough.

H’s incision is healing, but this has been a tough one. It’s in an awkward place and he’s had difficulty eating, blowing his nose, etc. It’s been miserable for him, but I could tell that he was feeling much better yesterday. He was goofy and fun and in a generally better mood. He gets the stitches out on Tuesday. Thank goodness. Dressing this thing daily has been challenging. It’s so awkward, but you have to keep it coated in Vaseline and covered to keep the incision from crusting.

H did the wire transfer on Friday. I was glad to get all that money out of our account. It made me nervous. I had visions of some hacker absconding with all of our house money. What a nightmare. Speaking of nightmares. I dreamed that my entire family was at my house. The whole shebang. I’m not sure if they were living with me or not, but it was one big, noisy mess. Someone was lying on the porch floor and appeared dead, but I knew that he just couldn’t wake up. And my B-I-L had loaned us a video, but he charged us $500 for viewing it. I know that video charge was directly from my awake life. We’ve had to pay fo so many ridiculous little things over the past few weeks.

Things are moving along. Progress is happening. I can’t wait to start painting.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and all who have mothers. That pretty much covers everyone.

Now go clean out your medicine cabinet. I’m sure there’s someone out there who can beat my 29-year record.

How Can it be Thursday

I can’t believe it’s Thursday. I woke thinking it was Wednesday. It should be Wednesday. Where did this week go? Every day was packed to the brim. I keep thinking things will slow down, but no.

We had yet another appraisal yesterday. This one was for the buyers. At least we didn’t have to leave the house, and the guy was nice. Fungi Guy comes again today. This is the preventative chemical. The last one was the killing chemical. All delightful chemicals but not for humans. Another guy will come soon to replace all the insulation. He may have to wait another week. I’m not sure.

H’s face is a mess. So awful and uncomfortable. Not painful but icky. The bandage inhibits breathing, and when his nose runs… well. He has a lot of stitches, both inside and out. His doctor is very good. I have no apprehension about the final outcome. His last mohs surgery was even more extensive, but she actually improved his nose. She’s an artist and so young…. and beautiful, not to say that it matters, but…

H dreamed that he carried me across the threshold at the new house. He didn’t say anything about back pain the next morning. Kind of sweet, though.

I dreamed that my friend got a new house, and her ex was there, too. I was cooking dinner for a crowd. The house was nice, but the oven was mounted so high that I couldn’t reach it. I decided to fry a few dozen crab cakes and sauté a huge pan of shrimp in butter and garlic. I’ve had similar dreams before. The details change, but the main ingredients remain the same. A huge group must be fed, but there are no groceries in the house, or the stove doesn’t work, or I can’t find the right pan, etc.

I managed to pack a couple of boxes yesterday, but it was an effort. I was coming off a sleepless night, and Tuesday was tiresome, too. I don’t know why the waiting room experience is so depleting, but that has always been my experience, and I do have a lot of experience at it.

H will make phone calls today, and take care of the cash transfer for the closing on Monday. There’s no heavy lifting required for that. I’ll continue packing. Chicken is for dinner. Yesterday, H took a roaster out of the freezer. I’m trying to use what we already have so we won’t have to move so much frozen food.

That’s what’s happening here in the cul-de-sac today. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but that’s the gist of it.

NC BBQ and Day Trips

Seldom do I say this, but I need something to do, somewhere to go, somewhere to be. And even that is not the real problem. There’s always plenty to do and places to go, but I’d like to have a halfway decent day in which to do it.

H wants to drive over to a nearby town and eat seafood. There’s a great restaurant there. It practically sits on the water and they know seafood. Do I need this? Every time I make progress, there’s a setback. I know myself, and I know that there are certain situations that I cannot handle, and a (mostly fried) seafood restaurant is one of them. Don’t talk to me about broiled flounder, cod, shrimp, etc. And don’t even mention lobster without dipping-butter. These are culinary crimes.

I’d rather wait until I can make a celebration out of it once I lose a little more. You know, go when I hit a goal that I’ve been looking forward to, and get back on the horse the next day. I believe in going off diets (lifestyle changes) for celebrations, but I like to get a little progress under my belt… so to speak. I believe in rewarding yourself, and I don’t mean buying a new dress or purse. I mean off the charts, delicious, yummy food.

I just checked the weather, and I can’t believe it! It’s supposed to be 50 degrees and sunny on Monday. Are you kidding me? I see a road trip in my future. I don’t know about the seafood restaurant, though. H wants NC barbecue for his birthday next month. I think it would be a great idea to drive down to NC. On the way home from the Outer Banks, we always stop at a place on the side of the road that makes the best barbecue. We always buy a couple of quarts for the freezer. The distance is at the upper limits of how far we like our day trips to be, but it will be well worth it when he’s enjoying some NC BBQ on his birthday. We’ll have it when the kids come. A few of his favorite side dishes, and it will be a celebration worthy of diet busting. Life must be lived, celebrated and eaten in big, generous bites. A 68th birthday is just such an occasion… in my book.

I had no idea where I was going with this post. Looky there. I figured it out as I went along, and now I have a plan. Let’s see if H agrees?

A Mishmash

It happened. A couple of days ago, while chopping veggies for a salad, H cut his finger. I heard the yelp and looked up to see blood – a goodly amount. The knife slipped and cut his pinky. The cut is less than a half-inch long, but I suspect it’s deep because the gap hasn’t closed yet. I think two little stitches would have done the trick, but he refused to go to ER (my last visit was $400 out of our pockets), and he refused to let me stitch it up for him.  I just don’t understand why? 😦 So I make him keep Bacitracin ointment and a Band-Aid on it.

H has to get his truck inspected today. We’ll have a cup of coffee, and then I’ll follow him down to the mechanic’s shop. The sticker expired in December. Can you believe that? It’s been sitting in the garage. He starts it up occasionally. He hardly drives it anyway, just to the golf course or the dump, and he hasn’t done either of those all winter. Spring is coming, and we’ll eventually catch a day that’s warm enough for golf, and then there’s yard work. That will start soon.

Talk of spring reminds me. I bought the prettiest red Japanese maple last spring. I’ve wanted one for years. I always love that bit of red in the green landscape. When the gypsy moths finally killed my poor ‘Forest Pansy’ Redbud, I knew exactly what I would replace it with. H planted it for me at the end of the porch. Small though it was, I admired it with great hopes. On their last visit, my oldest granddaughter (8-years-old) came in the house, head hanging and my son one step behind her. Almost tearfully, but not quite, she said, “Nona, I broke the limbs off your tree. I thought it was dead.” She was so remorseful.

Stuff happens.

I was in the grocery store a couple of days ago, and a thirty-something dad was in the checkout line in front of me with his little boy. The dad’s pants were down below his butt crack. Now, this wouldn’t normally be a unique sighting, but I don’t mean just the top of his crack. His buttocks were hanging out, and he wasn’t wearing underwear. I swear, the entire set of melons were winking at me. And… every time he moved, his hoody rode up and exposed an x-rated amount of skin for my viewing. The whole experience was a little icky. He was wearing NO underwear and no shirt under the hoody. Really? He must have been in a hurry.  Did you ever have a strong urge to do something outrageous, something that could get you confined to a mental institution? I had such an urge to pants that guy. I really wanted to roll up one of the tabloids on the shelves that line the checkout aisle and wallop the heck out of him with Brad Pitt’s face. Somebody needs a time out until he learns how to wear his pants.

Last thing:

I went into the bathroom yesterday and stepped into a puddle of water. The toilet is leaking. H will have to change the seal. Toilets are a pain, but indoor plumbing is sweet. So.

Very last thing:

H just checked the weather and guess what? They’re calling for ice first, but then snow today. I’ll believe it when I see it.

I’ll Chop this Onion the way I Want to, Buddy

Guess what I saw yesterday. I was washing dishes at the kitchen sink when I looked out the window and saw a pretty, little robin sitting on the deck railing. What a sight for winter-weary eyes. We saw a few the other day when we walked. They were hopping around on the ground, pecking for worms. Are there getable worms this time of year? At these temperatures, it must be like eating ice cubes. This first sign of spring made me smile. A little while later, he was in the same spot again. Maybe he will be a regular visitor.

Just as I thought and mentioned before, I can see that H’s new hobby will result in a lot of new gadgets and pans and appliances in ‘my‘ kitchen. I’ve cooked with the same old stuff for years, but there’s a new kid on the block. I can’t hold him down much longer. Now he wants a ‘dark’ cookie sheet because he wants to make these brown sugar chocolate chip cookies that will only spread out into concentric rings if he has a ‘dark’ cookie sheet. Do you believe this? Today it’s a cookie sheet, tomorrow it’s a pasta maker. Gift choices should be easy for the kids on birthdays and Father’s Days for awhile.

The other thing that cracks me up is how he finds recipes, makes them and  then adjusts them to our tastes. I know we all do that, but I never thought I’d see the day… He uses a few of my recipes, too, except I don’t have recipes. I often use a little of this and a little of that. I’ve tried to figure out how much of this and that and write recipes for him, but…

So he’s going to the masters for help. And remember the first time one of your children came home with knowledge you didn’t give him? And remember the first time he knew something that you did NOT know? The day that he actually taught you something new? That day is coming. He’s going to surpass me. And to think he used to sweat it if I asked him to check the squash casserole to make sure it wasn’t burning.

For him, cooking is new, something that’s different from his norm. He’s having a good time with it, and I’m enjoying it, too. Not being the only one responsible for all the cooking is fine by me… except when he tries to boss me. Then it’s, I’ll chop this onion the way I want to, buddy.

I’m off to the grocery store. He’s coming along. You know my bill will be more than I was expecting, don’t you?

Weight Loss, Wind and Lubrication

I lost zero pounds this week. A big goose egg. Nada. Nuttin’, honey! My weigh-in day is Wednesday. I kept my portions small and even exercised last week. You know that’s a big deal for me. I prefer to have litter bearers carry me from room to room, so lazy am I. I lost 1 1/2 half pounds earlier in the week and somehow managed to gain it all back. It made no sense.

In view of all this heartbreak at the scales, in an act of defiance, I decided I would eat a little more yesterday. Always a wise choice (note sarcasm). So I relaxed a little tiny bit yesterday. This morning I weighed in, and lost 1/2 pound. Too late. Wednesday was yesterday, but I’ll take it.

So this morning I decided I should walk. It was windy. No, not windy. It was Diane-Lane-Unfaithful windy. Remember that scene in Unfaithful when she first met her lover? The wind was blowing and gusting so hard that it blew her into the arms of her very sexy, ill-fated lover, played by Olivier Martinez. I always think of that scene when it’s extremely windy.

That’s how windy it is here today, but I’d made up my mind to walk, and by golly, walk I would. I lotioned up. I put moisturizer on my face, hand lotion on my hands, lip moisturizer on my lips and eye drops in my eyes. After a certain age, it’s lubricate, lubricate, lubricate. I’d dry up and blow away if I didn’t consistently lubricate every part of my body, even my eyes.

My face felt like it was frozen in the first couple of minutes. The branches on the trees were swaying to and fro in a wild dance. I had my hat, my scarf, my gloves, but it cut right though my clothing. We made it to the end of our street where even H said it was crazy and unsafe. We turned around, went down one small cul-de-sac and then came home. Good thing we did. Our front door was wide open, and the wind was gusting through the house.

No one belongs outside today. I can still hear the wind whipping around the house, even howling occasionally. I’m happy to be here with my second cup of coffee and a heating pad tucked behind my back. Shelter is a wonderful thing. Aren’t we lucky?

One more thing.

We were sitting here last night. I was on the computer, and H was going through some papers when I heard him say, “Ut-oh.” Ut-oh never means anything good. I looked up, he grinned at me, and there was a tiny, pointy, little thing where a tooth used to be. Right in the front! A cap had fallen off. Oh, Lordy! He called his dentist’s office this morning, and they gave him an appointment at noon. I swear, I think his dentist would meet him at midnight in a cemetery with slobbering Rottweilers guarding the entrance if H asked her to, so lucrative is his business. His is the mouth that keeps on giving. At least it wasn’t an implant.


Saturday Morning Quiet

It’s so quiet in here. All the cul-de-sac people are sleeping. The only interruption to the silence is the soft clicking of the keyboard as I type this, and the cicadas that have taken up residence in my eardrums (tinnitus). Singing away, they are. They never take a break.

H made the barbecued chicken last night and it was good. We had Ina’s Sautéed cabbage with it. It is the simplest recipe in the world – almost not even a recipe. You chop and sauté a head of cabbage in two tablespoons of butter (I used a little less) and add salt and pepper. That’s it. I used to boil my cabbage, and leave half of the nutrients in the water.

I’m having a lot of fun watching H learn to cook. It really is his new  hobby. He was never comfortable in the kitchen, always handing me something from a drawer or cabinet when I asked and doing the dishes occasionally, but that was about it. Now I’m the one handing him the can of tomatoes or paring knife. He’s always looking for new recipes, and I never know what he will come up with next.

I’m thinking of moving my blog. I’ll leave a link when I do.

Have a nice weekend, everybody.


Snow and Bills

On Saturday, we made this lovely thing with shrimp and pasta and a reduced sauce of white wine, lemon zest and a little garlic infused olive oil and a teensy tiny pat of butter. I know, but you have to have a little butter once in a while. We’re dieting, not dead. We made it  up as we went along, so I have no measurements. I only had a small portion.

It was in the low sixties Sunday, and H mowed the lawn. It wasn’t really about cutting the grass, but more about sucking up all the leaves. Still it was strange to see him pushing the lawnmower around in January. The yard was covered with leaves. He disappeared all of them in the fall, but there they were again. There are always more.

I just looked outside and we got a slight dusting last night, nothing like the North East got. When we went to bed last night, they were saying that it wasn’t going to be as bad as they had predicted. Ut, oh. The meteorologists were so excited yesterday. I haven’t looked at the news this morning, but I’m sure it’s bad enough for those who are in the midst of it. I hope everyone stays home until the roads are clear.

I usually make a big pot of something when they predict a big storm. Then I heat it up on our Coleman stove. I love my Coleman stove when the power goes out. It’s nice to be able to make a meal and a cup of coffee. We are not huge survivalists, but we’ve invested in a few items that make life endurable when we lose power; it happens every couple of years. When it goes out, it’s usually out for about three days. Just long enough to get annoying, and  who can go without hot coffee for that long without a homicide or something?

We don’t have a generator and are not survivalists, but we bought a few camping items years ago: Coleman stove, coffee pot, battery operated lantern and a few other things. It’s nice to have a little light after the sun goes down so you can play cards. A person could flip out without television or internet. We also have oil lamps in the attic. It’s surprising how those few items make such a difference in our comfort. And then there’s H’s garage. It’s a magical place. He disappears in there and returns with whatever you need. There’s a huge industry dedicated to survival, but our little collection could get us through a week or so without a knife fight breaking out. After that, I’m going to a hotel or my brother’s.

I recently commented that we live within our means. I already want to take that back. Why would I ever put that out there? You know what happens when you do that.

Three large bills hit us this month: insurance (quarterly) , personal property tax (annually), H’s teeth (always and forever)! I swear. Those teeth! We will never stop paying for those teeth. We haven’t indulged in an investment like this since my son left for college. And where’s the payoff? I spied a cashier smiling sweetly at him the other day. I turned my gaze to him, and saw his beautiful smile returning hers. I told him that if he wants to smile at women, he should charge. We could apply it to the bill.