Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

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Here to Stay

New Year’s Eve 1990. Get a load of H’s glasses and my hair? And who is that on my sweater. I bet that was a Marshall’s purchase.

Today is our 48th anniversary. Can that be so? Where did it all go? It’s been quite a ride, but it doesn’t seem that much time could have passed. We married after only a short time – three months… almost. We were young and had unrealistic expectations, but somehow we fumbled our way along until we learned a few things about each other and ourselves. We had a lot of growing to do, and I’m glad we grew together and not apart.

In forty-eight years, we’ve seen a lot of changes, except for one thing. He still leaves his stacks of crap all over the place. Even at this late date, we’re still working on that one, which is silly. If I could talk to my younger self, I’d say, “No matter what you hear about how everything changes, don’t believe it. Some things never change, like that one thing he will do that will drive you up the wall. But you will learn it’s a small price to pay. You will have happy times, sad times, even tragic times, you will share a child and grandchildren, there will be joy, illness, loss, and responsibilities that will overwhelm both of you at times. He will be the only person who is there every step of the way. And he will make you laugh when you don’t think you will ever laugh again. You have found a man who will stick when times get rough. And he will install a new garbage disposal when your old one breaks. So stop bitching about his piles of crap. Just show it to the internet.”

My office before H moved into it

Our office this morning

Here’s where I should insert some awful habit of mine, but I can’t think of a single one. Fancy that.

He woke to go to the bathroom around 2:30 am. When he came back to bed, he reached out and said, “Happy anniversary.” As we get older and face the unpredictable changes that come with this time of life, there is no one I’d rather be with. I’m so glad we didn’t screw this up.

Remember this song?

(Ira Gershwin / George Gershwin)

It’s very clear, our love is here to stay

Not for a year but ever and a day

The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know

May just be passing fancies and in time may go

But oh, my dear, our love is here to stay

Together we’re going a long, long way

In time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble

They’re only made of clay

But our love is here to stay



Dentophobia, Chilopodophobia and Glossophobia


H is getting a root canal as I write this. I’m glad it isn’t me. I need medication just to get through the door of a dentist’s office. I’m not prone to phobias, but my dentist phobia is crippling. What I would give to overcome it. I’ve yet to find a dentist who can anesthetize my back molars. I’ve been told that the nerves are in the wrong place. I did find an endodontist (root canal specialist) who managed to get my tooth numb before proceeding with the root canal. She shot the hell out of me. It was great. She was great. She talked to her assistant all through the procedure about energy drinks, local theater, restaurants, her husband and her kids. I love entertainment while anesthetized.

After once telling a dentist about my issue, he swore that he would have no problem getting the tooth numb. Even when I told him other dentists had failed, he boldly insisted he could do what no man had done before. He oozed confidence. The whole scene was unattractive for everyone concerned. He couldn’t get the tooth numb, and I ended up screaming like a nutcase and forcibly pulling his hand out of my mouth. It was ugly. I don’t like ugly. I had to allow him to finish. I couldn’t walk out of there with my tooth in that condition. It was horrible, but not the first time or the last. I have a tooth that needs some help right now. It’s a back molar.

I read that 75% of our population is afraid of dentists. I don’t know the study, but I believe it. H is in the 25%. He doesn’t mind visiting the dentist at all. He falls asleep in the dentist’s chair. Seriously. Who does that? He once fell asleep during a root canal. The dentist asked me if he was really that laid back or if he was working on a heart attack. I told him he was really that laid back. The man can sleep anywhere. He attributes this to Vietnam, where he says he learned to sleep when time was available.

I think I’m going to try a dentist who uses sedation.

Another subject that I don’t like.



I’m a little afraid of centipedes, too. Mostly because they skitter across the floor too fast for me to get out of their way. They’ve been known to reach speeds of 16 inches per second. I swear mine are faster than that, but I’d rather allow a hundred of them to crawl over me than go to the dentist. So there’s some perspective for you.

We have centipedes in the bathroom. I’ve mentioned this before. H found some great poison that’s effective for months after only one spray around the bathroom, and it has no smell after just a little while. I’m sure it’s toxic, but… One thing in the homely centipede’s favor, he’s an insectivore. They eat spiders, cockroaches, and other nuisance insects. So that’s a good thing, right? But I don’t care. I hate them more than spiders. One good thing to know: they are prone to dehydration, and using a dehumidifier could help reduce the population. Worth a try. The good thing about November is that centipedes disappear until spring.

Oh, and sometimes they care for their young. Sweet.

Still hate ’em.


I also hate public speaking. I’ve written speeches for others, but I will not give them, not even when the cause is dear to my heart. All of the anxiety symptoms arise if I have to speak publicly: sweaty palms, icy hands, racing heart, trembling. Again, I’d rather let centipedes crawl all over me.

What about you?

What are you afraid of?




So how was your Halloween? We went to Crystal’s. There were probably about 20 trick-or-treaters. She was hoping for more, but kids don’t trick-or-treat like they used to. Parents take them to other events, like trunk-or-treat. Parents fill their trunks with treats, and everyone meets at the school parking lot, and the kids go from car to car for their trunk-or-treat. It’s easier and safer, but it seems a little less exciting and more sanitized.

I loved Halloween when I was a kid. I remember my first Halloween that my mother allowed me to go trick-or-treating. Parents did not go along with the kids in those days, at least not in our neighborhood. We made our own costumes out of whatever we could find around the house. I was very little on my first Halloween. I tried to keep up with the bigger kids, who were supposed to look out for me. Ha! I remember one old lady who came out on her porch and yelled and screamed and carried on. I was so scared that I couldn’t move. Really. That was the most terror I’ve ever experienced in my life. I was paralyzed. My brother had to yank me down the walk. I guess that passed for “looking out” for me. LOL They all knew she was going to scream. I was the only one who didn’t know. Apparently, she did it every Halloween.

My youngest grand was Audrey Hepburn’s character, Holly Golightly, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the school parade. Her costume and hair: courtesy of her mother.



For trick-or-treating, she became the clown in Stephen King’s It. Hard to believe it’s the same child. Her mother’s artistry again. That face!


Revisiting Crystal’s Water Issue

Last week I wrote about Crystal’s rain/flood issue. She thought it was a downspout problem, but H thought it was coming from her neighbor’s backyard, possibly the above ground pool? When Crystal saw her neighbors in their front yard, she approached them and asked if they could give her any insight about it since they’d been there for years. She asked if it had been a long-time issue, if the sellers of her house had ever tried to remedy the problem, etc.

I guess it would help to explain that the street slopes downward. Crystal’s neighbor’s house is on higher ground than hers, and the neighbor on the other side of him is even higher, and we all know that water flows downhill. After blaming the issue on the neighbor on the other side of him, saying that his entire backyard used to flood because of their runoff, he told Crystal that he had installed a French drain (a corrugated tube that runs underground). Essentially, he redirected all the water from the other neighbor’s yard to the grassy area between his driveway and Crystal’s driveway. Since his driveway is higher, guess where the water goes?

So the problem is not coming from the downspout, but rather the neighbor’s backyard. H did a few things to improve the situation… at least for now. Cleaning Crystal’s culvert was the first thing because all that mud and water and yuck runs into it, but it doesn’t all run out. You don’t want all that water from his backyard to back up because it can’t get through the culvert. He’s going to put gravel at the openings to inhibit the growth of grass, etc.

Things seemed to improve during the last rain, but I’m sure it will be an ongoing maintenance issue. If we get a serious gully washer, and the problem persist, H will run a French drain from the neighbor’s backyard to Crystal’s culvert, which is what the neighbor should have done to begin with. The water now makes a trench along side his driveway and washes over Crystal’s driveway. Not the best situation for either of them.

Oh, the pleasures of home ownership.

You Know Your Life is Boring when…

Life is boring when the most exciting thing you have to write about is the opening of a Publix in your neighborhood. Martin’s sold their stores in the area, and Publix moved in. (spellcheck is changing the X to a C in Publix). Every time.

So we checked it out yesterday. Yes, this is a second paragraph on the Publix experience. (spellcheck and the X in Publix have reached a compromise. spellcheck will stop harassing the X if it can underline the entire word in red) The parking lot was packed and the store was humming with eager customers and friendly employees. You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a free sample. Gotta love an opening. Even though Publix inhabits the old Martin’s store, there is not a whisper of Martin’s ghost rambling around. Everything is brand spankin’ new. Everything is freshly painted, the floors shine like a mirror, and never-used carts abound. Some things were kind of pricy: asparagus $4.99 a pound, and ‘not’ organic bananas 55¢ a pound. I don’t usually pay more than $2.99 a pound for asparagus, though sometimes it’s higher, but not 5 bucks. Loved the color scheme: shades of soft browns, like creamy coffee. It was an atmosphere conducive to spending a lot of time and money. I bought two 30-ounce jars of Hellman’s mayo for $3.00, buy-one-get-one free, and they gave me a pretty reusable bag. As of yet, I have not checked out the new Wegmans. Big times ahead. OMG Spellcheck is unhappy with Wegmans, too. Wegmans is a store name that has no apostrophe, like Marshalls. Why do apostrophes get no respect anymore?

Crystal texted me today that water had washed across her driveway, taking a lot of the gravel with it. Her sidewalk was covered in mud and gravel that used to be in the driveway. We had rain Wednesday and a little yesterday, but not slanting, pour-down, frog-drowning rain. We’ve had this much rain before, and she didn’t have a problem. She thought she needed downspout extensions for the gutters to redirect the water. H said that would be fine, but that’s not what caused this mess. He thinks her neighbor’s – not the crazy woman who won’t cut her grass, but the couple on the other side – above ground pool may have something to do with it. Not sure but worth investigating. There was a trench of water running from their side of the backyard fence all the way to Crystal’s gravel driveway in the front. When we were leaving Crystal’s last night, we saw the husband walking around the backyard. Checking out the pool? Who knows? Crystal will talk to them this weekend. At least these neighbors have shown no signs of mental instability. That’s always a plus.


Who’s Cracking Me Up, Conversation with H, Step Away from the Arugula, Etcetera

Who’s Cracking Me Up?

Wednesday night, I saw only a bit of an interview on 360º with Hillary. I was too tired to watch and kept falling asleep. The only thing I remember is Anderson Cooper mentioning the comment former President George W. Bush reportedly made after Trump’s inauguration speech: “That was some weird shit.”

There’s a man who knows how to put a fine point on it.

Conversation with H

Me ~ (as we’re driving by a place called Wayne’s Feed Store) I used to date a guy named Wayne. He told me his father was a lawyer, but I found out that he worked in a feed store. Why would he lie about that?

H ~ To impress you.

Me ~ Once upon a time, I really was worth impressing.

H ~ You still are.

That’s the part where I swooned!

Step Away from the Arugula

I’ve fallen in love with arugula. Like most everyone, I’ve eaten it many times in salads, but I didn’t appreciate its full potential because of the thousands of other mixed greens it was associating with. I recently tried Panera Bread’s Tomato Mozzarella Flatbread Sandwich. It has arugula in it and it’s delicious. Everything would have been all well and good if I’d stopped at that.

Because I couldn’t get enough arugula, I then bought one of those big plastic boxes of it at Kroger, the size that would feed a small village, and I got some flat bread (fewer calories and carbs than regular bread). I pulled out the panini maker, and started making my version of Panera’s sandwich at home. Healthy. Right? Then I moved on to making arugula salads with tomatoes and a light vinaigrette dressing. Even healthier, right?

I admit I went round the bend on this. I take blood thinners, and I knew arugula had vitamin K (K enhances clotting), but I figured I was fine. I mean it’s not as if I was eating tons of kale or spinach, which are very high in vitamin K. Yesterday, my INR (a laboratory measurement of how long it takes blood to form a clot) indicated that my blood was a little too thick. I confessed that I’d been bingeing on arugula. I felt like I was confessing to gargling with controlled substances, or eating a whole mixing bowl of brownie batter. They told me to back off the arugula, and get my INR checked again in a couple of weeks instead of the usual month.

It’s a good thing I found out before I went grocery shopping. Another big box of it would have found its way into my cart. Death by Arugula! That sounds like a great title for a book.


Yesterday, while Crystal was at work, we went to her house so H could assemble her new bar chairs. He did all the work while I listened to my book and tried to talk to him occasionally, but he pretty much ignored me. He doesn’t like for me to talk to him when he’s busy or concentrating. Imagine that.

Nice, huh?

The Canada geese are back. They make a pretty sight at dusk as they circle around the pasture in formation and come to earth just in time to tuck themselves in for the night. We were at Crystal’s – about a mile from here – the other night when they flew over her house on the way to our house. Cool. There’s a for sale sign on the horse farm. It’s only for six acres, but which six acres is what I’d like to know. Hope it isn’t the pasture. Nothing is forever. Don’t you hate that?

Do you think Canada geese can read?







A Nice Evening

We’re trying to get back to normal. The out-of-town people have left my niece’s house, but my sister and her husband are still here. They are staying at Crystal’s house. My sister and I have had the strangest estrangement for years, neither of us ever talking about it, her trying to avoid me, and me trying to get her to see me, talk to me, etc. Picture her as the cat with the claws and me as the puppy that wants to play. I keep trying and she keeps swatting. She must think I can’t get the hint, but I do. I just won’t stop trying.

On Friday morning, Crystal told her that she wanted to have a cookout on Saturday night, and that she wanted us to be there. I was hesitant at first, but Crystal said that my sister had agreed to it. So. I said I’d make some potato salad and deviled eggs because who can remain irritated while eating potato salad and deviled eggs? My other niece who lost her husband came with her two adult sons.

It was perfect weather if I’ve ever seen it. It was in the seventies and a little cloudy so the sun wasn’t baking us. H grilled the best hamburgers he’s ever cooked in his life. They were delicious. Everyone was calm and relaxed. My sister even had a glass of wine. I got to talk to my niece’s sons. I haven’t seen them in a while. I told them they had spoken beautifully about their father at the funeral. The oldest one is closing on a new house tomorrow, but he and his wife are going to stay a couple of weeks with my niece until they paint and do a few other things in their new house. That will be great for my niece, and the new house is only five miles from her. She will have them for support.

I took a gift for my sister. When Dad was in the nursing home and I drove 140 miles roundtrip every day for about four months, Dad asked my brother to buy a watch for me. It was a beautiful, expensive, gold watch. Really, if you want someone to pick something out for you, you want it to be my brother. Mr. excess guy. I think the watch/gift annoyed my sister. I know it did because she talked about it… many times. The funny thing is that I don’t wear jewelry except costume on rare occasions. I’ve never worn the watch. Not once. It was still in the original box. I never even had the links removed to fit me. I bought a new battery for it, and put it in a gift bag and took it to her. She almost cried when she opened it. I told her that she loves gold jewelry and I never wear jewelry and that she should enjoy it in good health. That right there softened her up. Crystal says I’m a suck-up. LOL

But really, I don’t care about the watch. It would only sit in the box forever. I like things like the old cuspidor H found in Dad’s basement, or the brass nameplate from the Chesapeake Bay deadrise Dad built back in the day, or my mother’s clock. That’s the stuff that gets my motor racing, and she’s not very interested in it. We’re all different. And that’s good. She doesn’t have to fight me for the jewels, and I don’t have to fight her for the junk. Believe me, there’s more junk than jewels. 🙂

Saturday night was one of the most pleasant nights I ever remember. Everyone was content; even my niece with her loss seemed calm and peaceful for the moment. At one point, she told me she didn’t think she could handle anymore love. She felt surrounded by it, and she was. We stopped by Crystal’s last night for a few minutes, and my sister told me that she had really enjoyed that evening, that it was perfect.

We’ll see how this goes, but it feels good.

With a Heavy Heart

With a heavy heart, I write this post. I’m up in the middle of the night again. It’s shaping up to be a horrible week. Sunday afternoon, Crystal called. She was hysterical, and it was hard to understand her. The husband of my other niece, Crystal’s sister, had died in an accident on the way home from church. Jeff was a sweet guy with a big heart, and only 49.

He had wanted my niece to go to church with him Sunday morning, but she begged off, telling him she was swamped at work. She wanted to work from home, and try to catch up. She is stunned. She told me that she was trying to “digest” it all, but couldn’t seem to.

My niece and her husband were one of those couples who do well together. They seemed to get through the tough times by holding on to each other, and they enjoyed the good times with gusto. They just returned from a week at the Outer Banks. They had so much fun that they added a couple of days to their vacation. She hadn’t even unpacked yet.

Only a couple of weeks ago, I sat with both my nieces on Crystal’s deck as the sun inched its way down behind a big, old pecan tree in the backyard. I told her that she’d made a good choice in her husband. That he was a good guy. She said, “I think I’ll keep him.” How could we have known how ironic that comment would become in only a couple of weeks?

I will remember Jeff as the big, muscle-ly guy with the bald head who could be found with the newest baby at family gatherings, cooing and cuddling with his whole heart showing. His insides were as soft as his outer appearance was tough. He fooled no one. You’d have to be blind not to see what a sweetheart he was.

by the way

In the last post, I meant “short, fat, crazy person” as opposed to “short, fat, crazy people.” I was referring to a specific person. I hope you knew that.

A Packet of Seeds and an Update on the Move

I haven’t been home in so long (except to sleep) that the zinnias that Lilou (my youngest grand) cut and put in a vase for me died. They drank until all the water in the vase was gone and then dropped dead. Shows them for not rationing their water.
The Grand Trio planted the seeds in May and were kind of impressed with what happened to them. So was I. H broke the soil for them and they threw them in. We promptly forgot about them because they’re on the side of the house, and we’re never over there. One day we walked out the garage door, and this is what we saw. That’s a big wow for a few cents. They work their hearts out for you.
If you know nothing about gardening, are too lazy to tend to your garden, don’t have the time to be bothered, I recommend roughing up some dirt and throwing in some zinnia seeds, and leave them alone. Better yet, get some kids to throw them in the soil. If you wish, you can water occasionally. Butterflies, bumblebees and other little, buzzy-type insects love them.


My niece is in her new house. The move is finished, she bought a new mattress to go with her new bedroom set and it was left off the manifest and was not delivered. So she can’t sleep in her new house. Hopefully she will get that straightened out today. She loves the house and so do I (which is important, right?). She’s working today. I want to go over and hang pictures (picture-hanging is my thing), but I guess she should be there. Ya think? After all, it is her house.

I can see that I’m going to have to restrain myself on these decorating decisions. She tells me to do whatever I want, but I would never. However, I don’t like the way I put some of her stuff in her kitchen cabinets. I told H that I might go back today and do a little tweaking. He said, “Good grief, you’re like that weird, anal retentive guy in Sleeping With the Enemy, the one who straightened all the cans in Julia Roberts’ cabinets… before he tried to kill her. You may as well just gaslight her. You could go over every day and move things around while she’s at work.” “What’s with the sarcasm, buddy? I have really good taste.” I think he’s going to take my key away. 😦

She called and asked us to come over again last night. We ordered Chinese and ate on her new table and chairs on the deck. Before the big move yesterday, we moved a few things Tuesday, and my other niece – Crystal’s sister – came over. It was nice to just sit and talk and laugh with them. I don’t know when I’ve laughed so much. There’s nothing like telling family stories – even the horror stories – with family. The tales are so much funnier when the people listening know the history. I haven’t seen them together since Dad’s funeral. I cannot believe it’s been four years since Dad died.