Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

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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

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Enjoying Summer and A Visit with The Grand Trio

I can’t stop reading. It’s got me by the throat and won’t let go. H, who is not an obsessive reader – more of a worker – is almost as bad as I am lately, leaving his yard work at intervals to sit on the patio and read, then returning to his abandoned wheelbarrow and shovel to give a half-hearted effort at finishing the job before he comes back to prop his feet up again. It’s nice to see him relax a little.

I can’t remember when I’ve dipped myself into summer and not come up for air like I have this summer. I think it’s the weather and the ubiquitous breeze that rolls in off the pasture. I can’t get enough of it, and I just know I’m going to be sorry for writing that. I’ll open the backdoor one morning soon, and the cursed humidity and suffocating temps will have arrived, but until then…

Yesterday was a hammock day if ever I saw one. I actually fell asleep in my lawn chair, my feet propped up, a breeze gently moving strands of my hair, and the Boston-accented voice of the narrator droning on in my ears. I could not keep my eyes open.

We drove up to see the grand trio Sunday. What a good time we had. We all went out for lunch. It was a beautiful setting, and we got the best table in the place with the most beautiful view.

We sat on a terrace overlooking a lake as we ate and talked and watched big, fluffy, low-hanging, white, cumulus clouds drift by in a sea of deep blue sky. Restaurants and shops and fountains and beds and pots of vibrant flowers surrounded the lake, and a choo choo train drove around it all. There were as many old people riding it as young. A merry-go-round sat on the other side of the lake, and  paddle boats dotted the water along with swans and ducks.

The kids went for a ride on a paddle boat – a mighty dragon boat – with their mom. They found out that paddling those boats was a lot of work, even though they took turns. Sweating and red-faced, they all looked like they’d done hard labor in a work camp when they returned, but they recovered quickly with snow cones. While they sweated it out on the lake, H and I had margaritas in the shade as we watched. This grandparenting stuff rocks.

This one, in her pretty dress, was the only one who looked fresh as a daisy when they returned. The older grands and Mom may have done all the paddling, but she worked hard on that snow cone/icy.

Just so you don’t think I’m a total slacker, I did replace a broken toilet seat this week, and I did a load or two of clothes and dust mopped. Oh, and I watered and fertilized my pots and potted some dill. Golly, when I put it all together like that, I sound almost productive, but don’t be fooled. I’ve had my feet propped up and listening to a book most of the week. It was a good week.

Driveway Progress and Niece’s House Update

Megyn Kelly is interviewing Vladimir Putin as I write this. He is not without a certain kind of charisma. He affects all the standard macho characteristics:  coolly unconcerned body language, a supercilious smirk, and a contemptuous laugh. His relaxed arrogance slices across language barriers like a hot knife through butter. A chilling character, but Kelly never lowers her eyes in a submissive pose. I don’t know that I could maintain eye contact with him. Even when the pro-Putin audience laughs at his imperious comebacks, she keeps her composure. He denies Russia’s interference in U.S. elections and accuses America of interfering in Russian affairs, saying, “It must stop.” Audacious!

H is still working on the driveway, no arrogant smirk on his face, but a lot of sweat. He’s putting the filler in the cracks today. He has to shove small pebbles into the cracks, and then fill it with some kind of cement mixture – a tedious job. The pebbles are supposed to disguise the cracks, making them blend in more with the surrounding aggregate. We’ll see. When he finishes the cracks and they’ve dried, he will apply the sealant with a roller. That’s for another day. I think they are calling for rain tomorrow, yet another delay. Fun times on the pasture.

Oh, my gosh. We have so many passwords. I know I’ve complained about this before, but here I am again. I can’t seem to choose a method and act on it. H decided he was going to make a new list. The old one is almost illegible, we’ve scratched through, written over and made additions and subtractions so many times it looks more like a toddler’s Christmas list than a password list. Then he considered putting the list in iCloud. I didn’t like that idea. He almost scoffed at me until I texted my DIL who knows all things that need to be known about computers. I didn’t tell her there was a disagreement, because they would always take H’s side. LOL He’s the charming one in this house. The grands like him more, too… well, the youngest one does. She loves me, too, but she adores him. Trust me, if we had a dog, the dog would like him better, but I digress. DIL texted back that storing sensitive info in the cloud made her nervous. She sent a link to password storage advice. So I’m back to this again. I don’t know why I don’t simply make a decision on how I want to do this. I’m usually more decisive. Is indecisiveness a sign of aging? Maybe I like the romance of paper, and a hiding place worthy of Nancy Drew.

Here’s an article I found: The Best and Worst Places to Store Your Passwords – Are Yours Secure? This guy warns against cloud-based password-storage services (password managers). I’m happy that he didn’t poo-poo paper altogether. I’m going to take care of this. This is the last time you’ll hear me complain about passwords… maybe.

Three Methods He Suggested

1) Lock your paper password chart in a desk or file cabinet or office when not in use, away from family, cleaning staff, visitors, and others.

2) Create an encrypted container (folder) on your computer using modern encryption software and a strong password, move your “Passwords” document (and other sensitive files) into it, lock the container when not in use, and then securely delete (“shred”) the original, unprotected document.

3) Use password-management software that stores its encrypted database on your computer (not in the cloud), and choose a strong master password for the database.

The sellers accepted my niece’s offer on the house. Isn’t it cute? It’s a small house, but the living area is surprisingly spacious.

I’m excited. We’ll do the walk-through with her on Tuesday at noon. This seller reminds me of a friend of mine who loves monograms. Not a room in the house escaped some sort of monogram. I think she would monogram a goat if it stood still long enough. She has a nice style, and they’ve maintained the house.

How do you store your passwords?

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…nothing exciting to add…

Things have been kind of regular around here lately. We’re back to “normal.”

H decided he wants to power wash, fill the cracks, and seal our aggregate driveway.  Have I mentioned this before? Because he started power washing it weeks ago, then came rain, then my niece’s move, then more rain and then vacation. So he’s trying to make progress. It’s a long and tedious job. The power washing (hopefully) is the most time-consuming part. You cannot imagine how stained that driveway is/was. The neighbor down the street sealed his last summer, and it looks good. He told H what to buy for the job. So… time will tell, probably lots of time, because rain is expected the next three days.

I’m in the midst of reading a horribly graphic book. A couple of the descriptions are a little strong even for my taste. It’s a James Patterson book, The Murder House. As usually happens in Patterson books, a serial killer is on the loose. This one has a penchant for spearing his victims. I haven’t read Patterson for a while. I’d forgotten how unsettling his novels are sometimes. I had to skip over a small part of one passage. What a wuss. But sometimes you just don’t want to put something in your brain that will roll around up there for years. I’m not generally attracted to happy-ending type novels. Well, I do like happy endings, but only after half the characters have been revealed to be intrinsically evil, betrayers of some variety or other, or end up on a slab in the morgue. Then I want to know who dun it, and I want justice. I do love a good psychological thriller, and Patterson knows how to write them, but don’t go there unless you can take it.

I haven’t read a happy-isn, relationship-type book for a very long while. I don’t like them much, but I decided to try a “beach” book for poolside reading on vacation: Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand.  Three women, two ex wives and a widow, arrive at a cottage on Nantucket, believing they are there only to spread their newly dead (ex) husband’s ashes in the ocean off Nantucket. Unbeknownst to them, he’s left his beloved cottage to the three of them, a place they’ve all spent time with him. Not the most plausible story, I admit. They arrive on the tiny island with varying amounts of luggage – literally and figuratively. He was a famous chef after the fashion of Anthony Bourdain. He was a handsome, edgy, troubled, bad boy, the type for whom women love to derail their lives. It was one of those what-if scenarios, and it was easy reading for public places. I watched young girls doing cartwheels on the beach and looked for dolphins simultaneously without dropping a stitch in the story. No one was speared… except metaphorically.

Ancestering, People Watching, Organizing

I’ve been ancertering lately. Yes, ancestering is a verb. It’s fascinating stuff, and I’ve made a lot of headway, but I’m beginning to see that it’s endless. Every path leads to another. There were ministers in my family, but most of us were farmers, carpenters, boat builders and homemakers. Working people. I don’t think I’m going to find royalty, philosophers, musicians, or artists, but you never know. The quest goes on.

I had to get a chest x-ray yesterday and some labs. Since a bit of waiting is the norm, it gives me a chance to engage in one of my favorite pastimes, people watching. There were two older women sitting across from me. The larger one wore bright yellow pants and a striped shirt of yellow, green and blue, and she had a PhD in bossing. Clearly. She also had a horrid case of RBF. She was knitting away, but it did not interfere with her bossing job. She kept leaning over and giving the smaller lady her opinion about what she should do and how she should do it. I could only hear the tone, not the words, but the facial expressions and body language of both women were something to behold. The smaller woman looked like she was used to it, but did not subscribe to the larger woman’s philosophy… despite her PhD. I bet they were sisters, and had been at it since they were toddlers.

I plan to organize my closet today. I don’t think I’ll toss much because I did that a few months ago, but I need to get my summer clothes in one section and my winter things to the back so I can find what I need when I need it. We’re going on vacation soon, and I have to decide what I’m taking and maybe even… wait for it… iron a few things. Ha! I’m looking forward to wearing some of my new things. It’s so nice to have clothes that fit again. I still need pants. My niece has implored me to get new pants. She says a commune of hippies could live in there. I still need to lose weight, and I’m still losing very slowly, but it feels more like maintaining to me. When I get back from vacation, I plan to get serious, but I have to enjoy myself. It is vacation!

The certified letter was from the bio-daughter. More of the same. Sigh.

Kids!

I got my hair cut yesterday. Francine is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. She and her husband were Catholic when they were young, and he went to seminary. In their twenties, they both fell away from religion. They have three kids: two girls (16 and 17) and a little boy (5). Francine is about the age of my son (42) and very attractive. She owns the salon, and her husband owns a local pizza place. They both work hard, and I suspect they’ve done well.

A very young woman was at the reception desk, and she was cute as anyone could possibly be. I didn’t interact with her much when I arrived. Francine called me back almost immediately, but when I left, she took my money. Her slothful movements and bored expression said that she wanted to be anywhere but there. No one but a teenager can look that bored with life. When I asked a question, she answered as if it was a big bother, and she never gave me eye contact. I felt as if she was doing me a favor to take my money. One thing was clear, she didn’t care if she kept this job or not.

It took me a few hours after I got home to realize she must be Francine’s daughter. That explains her behavior AND why she still has a job. She did not want to be there, but her mother did want her to be there. She was sulking. I’m not sure who was winning the battle, but kids usually win. They are committed and gifted at beating the parent into submission. LOL

I bet anything that she’s her daughter. Ha. I’m going to ask at my next appointment. Kids! I bet she would never act that way if she was working for someone other than a parent. Her mother should put a nanny cam on her.

In about five years, she will be a lovely young woman; no traces of the indolent, spoiled teenager will remain.

When my son was a teenager, we kept a sign on the refrigerator door that read, “Teenagers: Tired of being harassed by your parents? ACT NOW! Move out, get a job, and pay your own bills while you still know everything.

A bit harsh? Perhaps, but it definitely has some truth to it. He’ll need it for his fridge in a couple of years.

Nowadays, our refrigerator offers different information. How soon life does change.

Pantygate

Names have been changed to protect the not so innocent.

Because rain was expected on Saturday, and because old retirees are flexible, my niece’s moving day was changed to Friday. It’s a good thing because it rained buckets on Saturday. When we arrived, she was drying one last load of clothes.

Her next-door neighbor Mike popped in unexpectedly and helped H move the washer and dryer. He seemed like such a nice guy, and he was a lot of help. He and his wife are expecting their first baby. Crystal said they’ve been great neighbors for six years, always helping her with things around the house that would be difficult for a single woman. She repaid them with pots of soup and spaghetti sauce. They both begged her not to move.

When they started to move the washer and dryer, Mike called to her, “Crystal, what do you want to do with these?” She’d left a few panties in the utility room. She was so embarrassed. After a few exclamations of “Oh, my God!” she apologized. Good-naturedly, he said they weren’t the first panties he’d seen. We all laughed and moved on.

Crystal called last night and said, “Auntie, Mike texted me, saying he’d like to see me, that he’d like to take me to lunch” (he works from home, and his wife works during the day). She texted him back, told him no, and reminded him that he was married and about to have a baby. He texted her again, reiterating that he’d like to see her and hoped she’d reconsider. She ignored him.

One other thing: she’s a lovely and fit 52, and he’s in his early 30s. She said she lived there for six years, and he was never anything but polite and gentlemanly. She never felt any weird vibes from him. Nothing. I would never have pegged him for a hound either, but a hound he is.

I told her that her life is exciting, but exhausting. The only drama around here is what’s for dinner, what will we plant in the yard?

Dinner tonight: Chicken Under Brick

Plantings: impatient plants, hostas, coral bells, ferns, bleeding heart, zinnia seeds…

Fact: Bella Rum wears 100% cotton grandma panties.

Photo: images.google.com

A Beautiful and Productive Day

It was a beautiful day yesterday. It put me in the mood to work outside.
One of my irises that we brought from our last house bloomed. Love that wine color. My coral bells are still thinking about blooming. It was one of those days that begs you to come out and play. I washed the winter off all the lawn chairs and the table and its four chairs and even the cover on H’s grill.  I bought some wave petunias and a couple of geraniums at Home Depot (where else?) to plant in a pot at the front door. I haven’t gotten the pot yet. I hope to get that at Home Goods later today. I’ll do it after my 6-month doctor appointment. I’m going to put impatiens in those two turquoise planters up there. We get a lot of shade in the backyard. My niece gave me the red reclining chair. She didn’t want to take it to her next house (?).

No sooner than I finished cleaning all the chairs and came inside for a break, the wind started blowing like mad. I ran outside to save a little foam pillow that was a headrest for the red chair. I’d taken it out of its cover (which I’d washed and hung on a tree branch) and placed it on the red chair. Just as I stepped out the door the rain came pouring down, the wind collapsed the red chair, and lifted the foam pillow and took it away. It went airborne, then bounced, then went airborne again, then bounced … I went after it like I was chasing a dog off its leash – with speed, purpose and determination! What a spectacle. I was lucky it didn’t go over the fence because my determination wanes at fences. That pillow would be wherever Porch Pup’s St. Patrick’s Day flowers are. They blew out of his basket and haven’t been spotted since.

Mind Monsters and Blue Apron Comes to an End

I woke at 2:00 am this morning and never went back to sleep. I checked today to see if the moon was full last night. It was… 100% full. There you have it.  My mind wouldn’t turn off. That’s never good. Next thing I know, the mind monsters show up. I’ve learned to get up and busy my mind with something else. Most of the time that shoves them out of my head, and I can pretend that life will always be this good. I don’t tell you often enough how fortunate I am, and how much I realize it.

Let’s close out these Blue Apron posts. I’ve abused you enough.

Photo found on Google Images

We made our last two meals from Blue Apron this week. A few days ago, we made Chicken Under a “Brick.”  It’s cooked in olive oil in a non-stick frying pan on top of the stove. The instructions said to put water in a sauce pan, and sit it on top of the chicken (in lieu of a brick I guess), but…

there were two bricks in the garage that I’ve saved for years, and moved with us to each new house. One was from the foundation of my grandfather’s house after it burned down. The other was from the original Sand Castle Hotel in Myrtle Beach where we vacationed when we were younger. The lady who managed the Sand Castle saved it for us when it was demolished. H wrapped them in foil, put them in a cast iron pan, and placed them on top of the chicken. Voilà!

Spinach pizza was our very last Blue Apron meal. Another pic from Google. That’s pretty much what ours looked like.

I’d never made homemade pizza. It was way delicious, but someone at Blue Apron forgot to put the pizza dough in the box. Oops. We used Stefano’s Pizza Dough from Food Lion. It was good and easy to work with. They have a website with a video. 

We went to a play on Sunday afternoon. Most of my clothes are casual. I only have one or two “good” outfits. A lot of older people attend the Sunday matinées. Every time I go to the theater, I think I need to shop for new clothes. Where do these ladies find these great outfits? Maybe I should consider walking into a brick & mortar store, and trying things on. What a novel idea.

Lunch, Refrigerators, Washers and HVAC

Patsy will be here around noon for lunch. The refrigerator repair guy is here now. H is in there talking to him. The guy is telling him all about it. H loves this stuff. He wants a play-by-play if possible. I just want an ice maker that makes ice and doesn’t leak. This is the fourth time we’ve had him out here. Instead of repairing the old one, he is replacing it with a new one this time. Let’s hope this one works for more than 18 months.

Oh, and the washer wouldn’t do its cycle this morning. It kept making funny noises. I cancelled the load and started all over, and it worked the second time. Fingers crossed.

Lunch is as simple as it gets. Grilled ham and cheese sandwich, potato chips for Patsy (not us), and lemon thins and coffee for dessert. The only time I eat bread anymore is when I’m with someone else for lunch. I splurge.

My DIL just texted that the HVAC guys are at her house to install a new heating/ac unit, AND it’s the kids’ first day of spring break. So she’ll have those guys and three kids all day. That right there puts my mean-reds’ post into perspective. What’s a little itchy eye and a headache? Absolutely nuthin’.

Honestly? Do you know anyone whose junk breaks down more often than ours?