Bella Rum

A Happy Story, A Not So Happy Story, A Neutral Story

A Happy Story

After losing 19 pounds, H got the results of his blood work back Friday. Everything showed improvement, even his cholesterol. His “good” cholesterol increased significantly, and his “bad” cholesterol was within the normal range. His triglyceride was a little high before the weight loss, but it dropped a lot, and he’s well within the normal range now. Before the diet his A1C was not in the normal range. Now it’s in the normal range, and it’s the lowest it’s been for four years. I’d say that right there is a success story!

A Not So Happy Story

My DIL shot me a text Saturday¬†night that she’d found a tick in Lilou’s chest. When attempting to remove the tick, the head remained. It was finally removed, but Lilou wasn’t happy about it. ūüė¶¬†¬†Now we keep an eye out¬†for the early symptoms that indicate Lyme disease: bulls-eye rash (occurs 70 to 80 percent of the time in Lyme), flue-like symptoms, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, fever. Some of this is made more difficult¬†because she’s recovering from strep. Poor baby. You can find a¬†comprehensive list of early and later signs¬†at CDC.¬†Warm weather is on the way. Check yourself after being out and about. Ticks love juicy little (and big) people.

A Neutral Story

H has seen a neighbor standing in his driveway several times with his golf clubs. He looked like he was waiting for someone to pick him up. H said he’s going to approach him the next time he’s in his yard and tell him if they ever need another guy, he’s their man. I was always the social one in this relationship, but all that’s changed. I value alone time. ¬†He’s more outgoing than he used to be. I didn’t know things like that could change¬†so much. I thought we were kind of bent a certain way¬†from the beginning. Little changes and evolutions as we mature, sure, but we seem to have switched places. It’s all good. Just pondering.

The weather is frigid – in the twenties last night. It snowed yesterday. No accumulation, but still.

That’s all I got. Bye!


The Dream

I had a dream last night. I was in Dad‚Äôs house after he died. About a dozen people showed up from some nameless¬†organization that made monthly visits to make sure I was caring properly for my father, and that the house was clean. One woman wiped her hand across the paneling and gazed disgustedly at her palm. Angrily, I told her that my father was dead, and they had no right to be there and no right to judge me. Another woman said, ‚ÄúToo bad he put the house in his son‚Äôs name all those years ago. It would be in foreclosure by now, and I could get a good deal on this waterfront property.‚ÄĚ That‚Äôs when I shouted, ‚ÄúShut your mouth, or I‚Äôll throw you out.‚ÄĚ Then I heard H‚Äôs calm-talking-to-a-child voice saying, ‚ÄúWhere ya going?‚ÄĚ I was sitting up in bed, getting ready to throw her butt out. That‚Äôs what I was doing, but H stopped me. Lucky for her.

So what is this all about? A whole dozen people judging me, and finding me lacking. Ouch! Couldn‚Äôt be me judging myself and finding myself lacking, could it? ūüė¶

Fierce Porch Pub

H was out in the yard yesterday when a neighbor walked over with his dog. The dog was full of energy and running all over the place when he suddenly came face to face with St. Patrick’s Day Porch Pup and froze in his tracks. H said that he took a brief look, turned tail and ran like his tail was on fire. Ha!


So far this week we’ve had 81 degree temps and snow. I’m not religious anymore (in the traditional way) so tell me, is the end near (Judy?)? Or is that a myth about the seasons being indistinguishable near the end?

We ran some errands today. I wore my black shawl/cape kind of thingy. I love it. It wraps around me and feels so comfy, but I forgot about the March winds. Oh, my gosh! It was freezing cold and so windy. It kept flying and flapping and whipping around me. I must have looked like a crazy witch without her broom.


Lilou has a fuzzy, pink coat. I asked her what it was made from. With a serious expression, she told me, ‚Äúbunny rabbits.‚ÄĚ :/ I hope the Easter Bunny didn‚Äôt hear that. She starts school in the fall. I asked her if she was excited. She said, ‚ÄúNo.‚ÄĚ I asked her why. She said, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to stay home with Mama foreva!‚ÄĚ I feel just like her lately. Staying home with Mama would be such a nice, safe place to be. Create some crafts, eat a sandwich, take a nap, have a snack, play with Shopkins and Rainbow Dash, eat supper, go to bed, repeat. What‚Äô could be betta?

Out of this World and Porch Pup

Porch Pup is back by request from JB of The Awkward Widow.

img_2340I’ve never dressed him for St. Patrick’s Day before.img_2343One trip to Dollar Tree and I was set.

He’d had one too many green beers before this shot.

We had impressive hail on Saturday. To be honest, it could be pea-sized hail, and I would be impressed. Hail always impresses me. It seems like a mysterious phenomenon to me. The scientific explanation does not impress me as much as little ice balls falling from the sky.

Have you heard about the seven new Earth-sized habitable-zone exoplanets that astronomers discovered? You have? Well, I wanted to write about this days ago – before you heard about it – but I’ve been too lazy busy.

An exoplanet is a planet outside our solar system that orbits a star. I’m pretty excited about it. I was that kid who sat on the front steps at nighttime, sometimes with a blanket wrapped around me, listening to the screech-owl across the creek, looking at the night sky and wondering if anyone was up there. The next frontier was so exciting back then.

It looks like three of the seven plants have the potential to have water on them. You know what that means? They could potentially sustain life. The key word here is potential. In a couple hundred years or so, maybe we could go there, but not until we finish trashing this planet. That goes without saying, right? Earth is our first priority.

The seven exoplanets orbit an ultra-cool dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1. The light there is probably a rosy color. Imagine that. And what about their night skies? You wold be able to see the other Earth-sized planets at night. Just think about that. Scientists are stoked about this discovery! There’s so much to learn in and outside this world. I’d settle for all of us learning to get along.

So think of this when you go to bed tonight: forty light-years away, there’s a tiny, faint, dim star known as TRAPPIST-1 that has seven whole planets orbiting it. Seven!

I wonder if they have hail¬†there. I wonder if it’s pink.

The Scales, The Powder Room and The Grippers

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

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

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

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

A Grand Visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bare feet in February!

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

Some Like it Thin

The kids will get here this morning. I decided to make garlicky green beans, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I’ve done very well on the scales this week and decided I’d enjoy this weekend but… small portions. No dessert, just sherbet for the kids.

Yesterday, I unintentionally jumped all over the last nerve of the lady-at-the-deli. H stood in line at the deli in Kroger,¬†and I ran all over the store gathering the other items we needed. When I finished, he was eating a sample of hard¬†salami as the lady-at-the-deli sliced it. I tasted it and said to H, “I hope the rest of it isn’t this thick.” Okay. I like my salami thin. He usually tells the-lady-at-the-deli “thin” if he’s the one getting it, but I guess he forgot. This salami was wad-up-in-your-mouth thick.

The lady-at-the-deli must have heard me when I told H that I hoped the rest of it wasn’t that thick, because she took¬†a deep breath¬†and said, “I’ll do the rest thinner.” She then took a slice of the thin meat and brought it over to us. Saying nothing, she held it out… toward me. H said, “That looks good.” She then shoved it further toward me, getting eye contact and still saying nothing. I smiled and said, “Thank you. That’s perfect.” She went back to slicing. She did the same routine – glaring and never saying a word – with the cheese and ham. Awkward. Here’s the thing, I felt kind of guilty and picky. So picky. I think I ruined her morning because I like thin¬†salami. It’s hard to serve the public, and I don’t relish being one of “those people” that they go home and tell stories about.

Look at this:

Meet the Free Electric hybrid bike. Billionaire founder Manoj Bhargava and his team developed the Free Electric hybrid bicycle to take advantage of mechanical energy created by humans to solve one of the world’s most pervasive problems.


When an individual pedals the bike, the action drives a flywheel, which turns a generator and charges a battery.
… this free power invention has the potential to lift the 1.3 billion people who presently live without electricity out of poverty.
Having access to clean, free energy will enable poverty-stricken communities to not only light their homes but to connect to the internet and get educated. Bhargava says the reason the majority of those who are poor stay poor is because they have no power. He aims to fix this with the free energy bicycle.
— Source: Expand Your Consciousness

There are so many challenges in the world and even more on the horizon. Inventors and those who fund them can impact huge problems on a wide scale and change lives forever with one invention. It’s kind of inspiring.

Valentines and Politics (sort of)

We were in Dollar Tree for something and saw all the valentine cards, and all the people choosing valentines for their valentines. So we stood there and chose cards for each other. We are not romantic types or big on gift-giving. We’re pretty good to each other all year long… except when we’re not. With every year that passes, it’s easier to be good to each other. Egos have settled down, you¬†finally really¬†know each other (to the extent it’s possible to know another person), there are no trust issues. If there ever were, they’re long gone by now. We can still muster up an attitude occasionally, but it is short-lived and infrequent. H said the other night that neither of us has improved that much, we’ve just accepted each other, so each of us seems¬†better to the other than we really are. That’s probably true. And who else is going to take us at this late date? There is that.

Can I just say, to those of you who’ve followed this blog for a few years, our practically brand spank’n new refrigerator is sick. It isn’t even two-years-old, and this is the second time we’ve had to call someone out. It’s always the ice maker. We lived in our other house thirteen years, and we had to buy three – that’s 3 – different refrigerators. One even caught fire. We always get a warranty now, so this will not cost anything other than the inconvenience. It’s definitely classified as a first world problem.

I just read this:

“The terms third-world and first-world are often potentially offensive code words. Except where their original meanings are meant, they are best avoided in formal communication and in texts meant for diverse audiences.”

What? If it’s a code word, the code is written in invisible ink for me. I cannot keep up. It originated during the cold war to describe countries aligned against the Soviet Union (NATO) and now means capitalist/wealthy countries. Right?

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the definition has instead largely shifted to any country with little political risk and a well-functioning democracy, rule of law, capitalist economy, economic stability and high standard of living. Various ways in which modern First World countries are often determined include GDP, GNP, literacy rates and the Human Development Index.[1] In common usage, “First World” refers to the rich nations of the world. Source: Wikipedia

Lately our country is a teensie tiny bit questionable on one of those requirements up there: “rule of law” and maybe “well-functioning democracy” (emphasis on well-functioning). Oh lordy, I’m back to watching the news. It’s fascinating, and educational, and well, fascinating. Then there’s that Russian spy ship off the coast of Delaware.

Added Later:
I found this: “first world” or “third world” can be¬†interpreted as xenophobic or ethnocentric because they imply third-world countries are¬†inferior.

Good grief, I said nuclear sub… no, no, NO. Russian spy ship! That’s it.

Fish and Foul

1. so extraordinary as to seem impossible
2. not credible; hard to believe; unbelievable

Incredible Weather
I know I’m obsessing about the weather, but no matter what I say, you will not get how incredible our weather has been recently. It was 82¬ļ F today –¬†balmy, breezy and drop-dead gorgeous. It’s scary. It’s been 82¬ļ before in February, but only once since 1949, and we still have a chance to beat that. The kids are coming next weekend.¬†If this¬†continues, Lilou will want H to pump up her blow-up pool. The fact that it’s¬†February will not impress her.

I remember wanting to go barefoot at the first hint of warm weather when I was a kid, but my mother wouldn’t let me. I wanted to shed those socks and shoes, but I¬†had to wait. It was always too early. I think this February would shock¬†her. I loved going barefoot. And yes, we did that when we were kids. I guess people don’t let their kids do that anymore, and I guess they don’t let them get into swimming pools in February either.

Fish & Foul
When we got up yesterday morning, the kitchen smelled foul. H noticed it first. He remembered¬†that he’d put the skin from the salmon we’d had for dinner the night before in the trashcan (salmon is so much moister when you bake it with the skin). The trash bag had a hole in it, and a disgusting liquid had leaked into the bottom of the container. I sprayed¬†a mold and mildew product into the trashcan because it had bleach in it. The fetid¬†mixture¬†almost made me¬†gag. This is the exact reason double bagging was invented.

Locked Out
H went to the grocery store today for cream, eggs and fresh green beans. When he walked out of the store, an older gentleman asked him if he could use his phone. He had left his keys in the car and couldn’t get inside. H said, “Sure.” The guy called his wife and told her what he’d done, and that he was at Food Lion. He thanked H, and H went on his way. A little later, H’s phone rang. It was the guy’s wife. She said, “Are you the man who let my husband use his phone?” H told her, “Yes.” She said, “Could you please tell me which Food Lion he’s at? There are three of them around here.”

Old people have to stick together.

Aunt Ruby

Aunt Ruby called yesterday. There are two things you need to know about Aunt Ruby. She has a good heart, and she is a compulsive talker. She’s been this way her entire life, and it isn’t easy for those around her. It can’t be easy for her either. She’s aware that she talks constantly, and I believe she knows that she drives others to distraction, but she cannot stop herself.

It is impossible for me to convey how much she talks, how many words she can put into thirty seconds, a minute, an hour.¬†¬†She never stops. Being a compulsive talker¬†is not the same animal as being a regular¬†extrovert. They need little if any response, they only need to talk, they are compelled to talk. Aunt Ruby never met a period. No periods. She’s just one long narrative.

I answer the phone. She says, “Bella, it’s me. How are you?” I say, “Fine.” She says, “How is H?” I say, “Fine.” And those are the last real words I say until the end of the conversation. The rest of the time I grunt, uh huh, laugh, aah, etc. If I do say something, she will stop for a second, I will think she heard me, then she will pick up exactly where she was, as if I’ve never uttered a word.

She adores H. Why? Because he is a polite and patient man who will listen to her. At family gatherings, we sit with her.

Bless her heart, Aunt Ruby is neurotic. Usually compulsive talkers are. They often drive people away faster than a mad man wielding a large stick. She has a gentle spirit, but strangers would never get a glimpse of it. It’s impossible to see through all the chatter about new babies in the family, friends of friends of friends of her children, sick people, dead people, old people, young people, church, the weather, her health, life in Georgia when she was growing up, and on and on. She jumps all over the place. It’s difficult to follow sometimes.

I’ve learned to put the phone on speaker, and do other things while I sort of listen. This is good for her. She just needs to know I’m there. Every now and then I catch something about a relative or old friend that interests me, and I have to stop her, and get her to go back because I missed it. This is not easy, because she’s entrenched in¬†the next topic,¬†and it’s near impossible to pull her back. If I really want to know, I have to ask about three times.

At the end of the conversation, which she tries to end several times during a conversation, but cannot¬†stop talking long enough to do it, she apologies for talking so much and so long, and she allows me to tell her it’s okay and to tell her I love her and to say goodbye.

I have more tolerance for Aunt Ruby’s talking than some, but you’d be surprised by her supporters; they are legion. I think this is in large part because she’s lived in the same neighborhood since she married Uncle Wishie over sixty-five years ago. Everyone knows her. When you live in a small town or community, it’s harder to ignore or shun your fellow-man. You know him, and he is you or part of you.¬†I’m amazed at the people who help her, who take her to church, do¬†her taxes, take her to the grocery store, repair something in her house. Aunt Ruby may drive you to distraction, but she has a sweetness that seems rarer and rarer every day. She also has one daughter who is very devoted to her, and a¬†niece.

Sorry about the length of this post. I do run on a bit myself.

A Visitor, a Puzzle and a Book

I wrote this yesterday, but I was interrupted and didn’t get back to publish it before midnight.
H went to the dentist this morning, something that doesn’t bother him in the least. :/

While he was at the dentist, I made a cake, something that doesn’t bother me in the least. ūüôā

A¬†friend is coming for lunch tomorrow. The cake I made has¬†carbs galore, but we’ll eat only a very small slice for dessert. Moderation¬†is a skill, but rationalization is an art. To be safe, I’ll probably freeze half of it, and give her the rest to take home. Lying is skill and art¬†combined.

img_2319Idle Time by Heritage 

We’re in the middle of another puzzle, and she is a puzzler, too. So we have built-in entertainment.

I finished The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian. It was a page-turner and¬†¬†worth the read. I didn’t guess the ending¬†until fairly close to the end. If you prefer an audible version, I should tell you that the narrator was pretty awful, the worst I’ve come across. It didn’t stop me, though. I enjoyed it in spite of her monotone voice and robotic cadence. Think Siri.

I started a new book today, a complete departure. Remember the book¬†Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg? If you don’t, you may remember the movie starring Kathy Bates and Mary Stuart Masterson. I’m reading another book by Flagg, The-All Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion. I just started it a few hours ago, but it’s light and hilarious. Fannie Flagg narrates it. She does not sound like a robot.

If anything major happens in the world, I’ll miss it because I’ve recently buried my head in books and cooking shows. I still watch enough news to get a heads-up in case¬†Putin decides to¬†occupy Virginia so I’ll have time to hide the silver in the well (what well?) (what silver?).

It was 73 degrees today. I’m not complaining, but that is just wrong. It’s February.