Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

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.

Homemade Veggie Wash, Home Project Update and Smoke Detector Goes Rogue

We managed to get two rainy days in a row. It’s just what the lawn doctor ordered. Everything is green and lush again. It looks like a rain forest outside our kitchen window. Isn’t rain an amazing thing? See there. I used the amaze word, but it truly applies.

H finished sealing the driveway, and what a gorgeous job he did. It was a bit of an undertaking. I wouldn’t suggest it for anyone without a lot of sticktoitiveness, but we have a pretty large driveway, and it had cracks that had to be filled. That was the hardest part. H said rolling on the sealer wasn’t hard at all. The cracks are still visible, but not nearly as much as before, and the sealer minimized their ugliness. Two thumbs up on this project.


Do you remember when I had that awful fruit fly problem a few years ago? What am I thinking? Of course you remember. What else in the world do you have to do but file my fruit fly dramas away in your memory bank. Anyway, I saw a couple of them zooming around the fruit bowl a couple of weeks ago. Then a couple more… and a couple more. These guys don’t know when to quit. They especially love bananas. I read once that they lay their eggs in the banana peel – gross – and that washing the bananas when you bring them home from the grocery store helps prevent infestations. Okay!!! I’m on the detail. I went the whole nine yards and bought some natural veggie wash. H went even further and bought one of those mesh domes to put over the whole fruit bowl at Marshall’s for a couple of dollars. The veggie wash was more expensive at $4.49 a bottle. I decided I could make my own, which I will do when I run out of the store-bought veggie wash. Here’s a recipe if you’re having problems with those pesky fruit flies.

Super-Simple Veggie Wash

1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 cup cold tap water in a spray bottle

Mix, shake well, and apply to your produce. Rinse with tap water before cooking or serving.

Source: Organic Life

OMG The smoke detector just went off and scared the bejesus out of me. Those endorphins jumped to attention. It made a few piercingly loud beeps, and then it shut the hell up. Maybe it’s battery time. Do you remember that story about a family who was saved from a fire in their home when a gift-wrapped  smoke detector went off under the Christmas tree. I always wondered if that was an urban legend.

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A Good Read, a Puzzle, and a Summer Rain

It’s been a while since I stopped by here. It’s summer (technically) and I’m in reading mode. I spent yesterday morning and this morning on the patio until the sun slowly encroached on my little space, reaching my toes first and threatening to climb further unless I got up and went inside to make lunch. If I moved my chair around, I could find shade, but it’s convenient how it reaches me exactly at lunchtime, 1:00 pm. I know it will eventually get too hot to sit out there, but I love it so. The mornings are my favorite time, and I feel rich in every way that counts when I sit back there.

My favorite read so far is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It’s about survival and sacrifice and loss and endurance. It’s about choices and the testing of the human spirit. WWII during the occupation of France is the backdrop and time period. It’s a book that stays with you.

Now I’m into another summer read. I hardly ever read this type book, but I guess I bought a couple of them when we went on vacation. I thought I only got one, but a light book is what I need after a book like The Nightingale.

I’ve listened to long, rolling thunder booms for the past half-hour without a drop of rain to show for it, but it just started. It’s looking strong and quenching. We need it. H’s grass was beginning to look parched. This dousing will help everything, even my little half-moon shade garden in the back needs it. I love that garden. We planted some ferns in it early this morning. I’ve always wanted ferns and have tried them a couple of times without great success. They will have plenty of shade, but they need water, too.

This is our latest puzzle. It was great fun because of the blocks of color. In other words, it was easy.

Barnyard Royalty –  SunsOut Inc.

It was a terrible thing that happened on that ball diamond in Alexandria, VA today. Paul Ryan’s speech was a good thing; we could use more of that in our public discourse. I wonder about so much of our government gathering in a public place without security. The only reason they had any security was because Rep. Scalise – the House Majority Whip – was there. They only have protection when a “leader” is present. Otherwise, they would have had none. That has to change. Someone could take out a significant portion of our government in one swipe.

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Mental Illness

It was a quiet but tough weekend around here. Crystal’s granddaughter (13) started manifesting signs of mental illness a couple of years ago, yet there is still no diagnosis, but doctors have medicated her, which I don’t really understand. The medication is not helping. The family has been through hell. She’s been on suicide watch a couple of times, but they only keep her for a week or so and release her.

Crystal’s son called her at work on Friday, and told her that things had spiraled out of control again. It was bad. She left work and went to them. When she was alone with her granddaughter, her granddaughter revealed self-inflicted bite marks and scratches up and down her arms and legs. She hates herself, and how she makes her family suffer, and this makes her want to hurt herself. She knows she is ill. It is the saddest thing I’ve ever known.

I don’t know all the ins and outs of their journey for a diagnosis, but I know results have been less than satisfactory. This weekend, after much hullabaloo, they convinced someone to transport and admit her to a psychiatric facility that I think will diagnose her, and give her appropriate care, and not just keep her on suicide watch and send her home. This is the hope.

A few years ago, a member of the Senate of VA, Creigh Deeds, attempted to admit his mentally ill son to a facility one night, but was told there were no available beds. Come back tomorrow. Before the night was over, his son stabbed Deeds multiple times in the head and torso, and killed himself in an attempted murder-suicide. I fear we only heard the details of this tragedy because Creigh Deeds was who he was. Deeds later filed a $6 million law suit against the state and its regional mental health agency for improperly denying treatment.

As for the weekend in our house, it was quiet. H found all kinds of stuff to do around the house, mostly outside. I did a little cleaning, a little cooking and a little laundry, and in between, I talked to Crystal. The mood around here was one of helplessness, but not hopelessness. I think she is in the right place.

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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Pigs and Houses

We made a day trip to Smithfield whose claim to fame is the Smithfield ham. It’s very salty, and an acquired taste, but we grew up with it so we love it. If you’ve read here for long, you know I’ve mentioned Smithfield before. It’s a small town – a hamlet. Ha! It has a few shops and a couple of restaurants and a bunch of pretty, older homes.  The only thing I bought to bring home was bacon. We ate at the Taste of Smithfield that has – what else – pork in every selection on the menu. My friend took the photos. 

My niece found a house that she loves. We went to see it on Friday. It’s a small ranch house. She made an offer. She hasn’t heard anything yet, but it’s a holiday weekend. People have plans. The sellers may be out of town. Who knows? But it’s a nice house in a nice neighborhood. It’s 10 to 15 minutes from her office, and more importantly…. wait for it…. it’s three minutes from my house. I hope they accept her offer.

We aren’t doing much this weekend. H is always busy doing something, but I plan to read/listen to my new book. I finished the Patterson book. I liked the ending. I figured out who-done-it a little while before the end, but there was a twist at the very end that I only figured out a few minutes before it was revealed.

Have a fun and safe holiday weekend.

…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.

for the love of routine

We are finally and slowly ebbing back into our former life. It seems like ages since we’ve settled down on the couch with coffee and the time to yell at Morning Joe. Although, there hasn’t been much yelling lately. We’re on the same page. That happens once in a while. I’ve seen a hundred political perspectives over the past week that I thought I’d write about, but it’s impossible to choose. Did you hear that Trump broke a record on Tuesday? He went sixteen straight hours without tweeting. Maybe more, but I heard it at the sixteen-hour mark. I can’t believe they didn’t send out a search party to look for him.

So we’re recovering from vacation, and we’re doing after-vacation errands and chores: unpacking, laundry, grocery shopping, doctor appointments, cutting the grass, watering the flowers, etc.

I ran out of one of my scripts for my lungs about a month ago. The doctor would not refill it until I went for an appointment. This annoyed me. I thought he should give me enough to make it to the appointment, but I think it was the fault of the person I spoke with on the phone, not him. Anyway. I had to go off the meds cold turkey. Guess what? I was absolutely fine, but I got the chest X-ray and kept the appointment anyway. I told him how well I’d been feeling. He said, “Well, I think you fixed yourself!” Ha! He said, “If you can do this in the midst of pollen season, then I agree with your diagnoses.” I’ve come back a long way from a few years ago. I never would have thunk it. Neither would my doctors.

I gained 4.5 pounds on vacation. It was ugly, y’all. I was a wild woman. The hotel offered a breakfast buffet every morning: bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits, milk gravy, grits, pancakes, fruit, juice, coffee. Of course, there’s no requirement to eat all that. Let’s just say that I ate my share, and we went to a couple of great restaurants at night where I ate prime rib, fried seafood, garlicky & cheesy mashed potatoes and croissants drizzled with honey. My vacation can only be described as a foray into excessive self-indulgence. I needed saving!! Thank God we can’t afford to stay too long.  I’ve already lost most of the 4.5. 🙂

H is making the coffee and it’s past time for MJ. Wonder what’s new today? Maybe we’ll learn that Flynn disclosed to Trump’s transition team that he was under FBI investigation before Sally Yates ever mentioned anything, and even before Trump appointed him. No… that could never happen.

Beachin’ It

from the balcony

I spent the last few days getting ready for vacation. The kids are coming the day after we return, so I didn’t want to leave the house in its usual chic disarray. That means that I wanted them to have a clean bathroom and towels.

It’s beautiful here. Our weather is supposed to be in the upper 70s/low 80s. I know these are not swans, but I had to give you a toilet shot of our hotel towels. Only the best! for you!!

I had lots of funny, pithy things to tell you about, but I left my notes at home. I do remember seeing a man leaving Kroger as I was entering. He was carrying a huge box, and he was on his phone. In his official CIA voice, I heard him say, “The chicken is now in my posessiln. ” I’m sure someone at home was preparing to feed a lot of people, and the chicken was an integral part of the plan. He wanted to ease that someone’s mind.

I’m using H’s new laptop. He’s sleeping, and this is the first time I’ve had a chance to get my hands on it. Pretty fancy.

My niece came over for a visit on Saturday. I’m going to love having her close by.

So I’m on vacation, but that doesn’t mean I left my crazy dreams at home. I just woke from a dream about H. H was having an affair, a long-time affair. He told me about it and wanted me to meet her and accept the whole thing. See, that right there is how you know it was a dream. He took me to her condo that had a splendid view of a harbor dotted with sailboats. She was lovely and  younger than us, and she had lots of plants in her condo. Then I noticed a coffee table that was mine. I thought that H had taken it to Goodwill. Then I saw other things that were mine. Her condo was filled with my cast-offs, only they didn’t look like cast-offs. They looked nice, y’all. She had not only stolen my husband, but she’d commandeered all my stuff, and it looked better at her house than mine. I remember thinking that I would adjust, I would forgive H, but I also thought it would be very hard. I realized I was one of those women who thought her husband would never do this.

My favorite love-to-hate television couple are now a real-life couple. Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are engaged. For over a year, H repeatedly asked me, “How can her husband stand it. It’s obvious she’s sleeping with him.” I would just laugh because I couldn’t imagine her with him, but H called this one a long time ago.

I’ll be poolside with a book in a few hours, and walking the beach a while after that, and having dinner at a favorite restaurant this evening. I love the beach.

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.