Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

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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.



Moving Day… Almost and the Grand Trio

Crystal (my niece) got the keys to her house yesterday. We went over and helped her unload a few of her things that she had not put in the storage unit, but had kept with her. Her friends, an older couple, were there, too. Crystal stayed with them during this in-between time, and I can tell this move is bittersweet for them. They’ve enjoyed their time with her. They’re excited for her, but will miss her.

She’s working today. We’re going to her house in a few minutes. H is going to cut the grass because she doesn’t have her lawnmower yet, and we’re going to wait for her new bedroom set to be delivered. I’ll clean kitchen cabinets, and wash her new sheets while H mows.

We get the truck rental tomorrow, and will move all of her stuff from storage. It shouldn’t be too bad. We don’t have to move a bedroom set, and she sold her washer and dryer, two of the biggest things. Her couch, a desk and a wardrobe are the only large pieces left. She’s so excited, and so am I.

The grands came for a visit this weekend. They are all happy and reasonably healthy. I heard a couple of coughs. I’m not sure how thrilled the “olders” are about returning to school next month, but the youngest is excited. She’s transitioned from, “I’m not going to school. I’m staying home with Mama” to “I’m going to school soon. I get to ride the school bus.” The big change came after the school provided a day for the kindergarten kids to ride the bus to school, and visit their classrooms. Now she’s as hot to go as a firecracker on 4th of July.

So we’re off to mow and clean cabinets. Life is good. Gotta enjoy it fast. I hope things are good for you, too.

How to Build a Butterfly Watering Hole

When butterflies are only tiny babies, their mamas tell them to be leery of deep water. They have wimpy, little legs. They just do, but we don’t judge them. They have six legs, and each leg has six joints. That’s kind of neat, and they can smell and feel vibrations through their legs. We can’t do that. However, getting a drink of water without drowning can be a challenge. If you want to help the wimpy-legged butterflies, and who wouldn’t, you can make a butterfly bath. 
Years ago, we bought this (too) small birdbath when we were on the way to visit my aunt. I loved the look of it. There was a garden sculpture nursery-type place that we passed every time we visited. We finally stopped to check it out, and the prices were incredible. We bought this very shallow birdbath and Porch Pup on the same day.

As a rule, I think birdbaths should be a little deeper. This one has rarely attracted birds, but I thought it would be perfect for butterflies. Also, I think it was in the wrong place in the yard – too close to where we sit. H moved it about a week ago, and we decided to make it into a butterfly bath.

It is now surrounded by flowers, near food for the birds, and close to a shrub that provides cover for birds. Not only do the butterflies like it, but it has finally become a popular spot for small birds. Yesterday, I watched a house finch who was very involved in a splash fest. If you want to help the lovely butterfly, here’s a recipe. 

How to Build a Butterfly Watering Hole


1 shallow birdbath or any shallow container (shallow is the key word here) You can try the trays for clay pots, the tops of some containers, etc.

A few rocks. You can use river rocks, pebbles or other rocks.


Optional: Orange halves or other fruit.


Place rocks in container. Add water, but do not submerge the rocks. If you use smaller rocks, you can arrange them in clusters to make islands.

Note: Zinnias attract butterflies. They are bright and flat, which gives them a landing pad. They like that. Here’s a list of flowers that attract butterflies.

Now our small birds and butterflies are happy. There’s nothing like killing two birds with one stone. *groan*




Myrtle, Carb Bloat and Implant Boy


That’s our Myrtle in the front yard. It’s in its second bloom this summer. In January – when it isn’t in bloom – I hold forth on how and why we should prune it back: it was planted too close to the maple, just a few snips here and there. Then summer comes again, it blooms, the heart goes pitter-patter, and commitment wanes.

The Bloat

I’m not complaining or explaining, but I’m bloated with carbs. I admit that pretty much covers complaining and explaining. It is H’s fault, and I will not be moved from that declaration. He had to eat soft foods because of the implant, so that automatically meant that I had to eat soft foods. What is soft food? Pasta. Pasta is soft food. And so is a creamy broccoli-cheddar soup with a roux so smooth it slides down like liquid silk, not to mention that pulled pork tangent we went on. We are out of control in this house. I used to laugh at people who told me they felt bloated when they ate carbs. This week will not include: pasta, lazing on the couch with a book and a hubs that must stay still… or getting on a SCALE. No one wants me to shoot myself. Maybe a few people, but they don’t count.

Painkiller Recipe

H did beautifully with this implant business. He’s done it so many times, he’s a cottage industry all on his own. He breezes through these things like he was born to do it. I would still be making an ugly scene: fetal position, clenching pillow, low mournful moaning, occasionally high pitched. Why bother with these things if you can’t get some sympathy?  The dentist told him to try Ibuprofen and Tylenol. He said that Tylenol is wimpy, but when taken (short-term) in between doses of Ibuprofen, it makes a darn good painkiller. H did that for the first and second day and never felt a thing. The dentist gave him a script for hydrocodone “just in case,” but he never needed it. The boy aces this stuff.

This is what happens when we get old. We’re reduced to bragging about our recuperations. He gets bragging rights in this house.





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


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.