Bella Rum

Life on the Pasture

Here’s Your Hat; What’s Your Hurry

I visited Jennifer, my primary care doc yesterday. I was a little early, and they took me almost immediately. H had to update my information and forge my signature because they called me in so quickly.

Jennifer is okay, she’s nice, but not very in tune. Maybe it’s the nature of the PC doc’s job nowadays more than this particular doctor.  I know I’ve written about this before, but sometimes it feels like her “job description” is more about my medical records than about my actual health. PC docs have become more like personal assistants who make referral appointments for us, organize our medical information, keep track of our vitals, etc. They are responsible for keeping it all straight, keeping us on the right track, and preventing mistakes. And maybe she has too many patients. That could be part of it. She’s in a hurry. And maybe it’s that I’m old enough to remember a different setup, a time when the doctor actually looked at you when he/she talked to you, and not at a computer.

I really like my other doctors, my specialists. So there is that.

She reminded me of the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland yesterday. She asked questions so fast (obviously had a busy day ahead) that her words were occasionally garbled. She had places to go, people to see, and I was one more dirt road to be traveled.

She asked the usual Medicare questions: can you walk up a flight of stairs, feed yourself, dress yourself, do you still drive, any hearing problems, any memory problems, had any recent falls, etc. Believe me, if you can follow her rapid-fire patter, you have no mental issues. The nurse gave me my flu shot. Yay!! All appeared well with my health in general, and I was out of there in 15 minutes. What more can you ask. It takes longer to get the deluxe wash & wax at the Grand Prix Auto Wash down the road.

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In-Store Credit at Lowe’s

My other niece, Debra, visited Crystal on Saturday. H and I went over to visit with her for a while. You may remember that I mentioned how her husband Jeff died in a motorcycle accident a couple of months ago. He was a contractor and spent a lot of money at Lowe’s. He sometimes paid cash. He must have returned something without the receipt because she found an in-store credit card for $60.

He was in the process of building a new workshop on their property when he died. It was almost completed, but not quite, and it was something that was bothering her. She wanted very much to finish it to make sure all of his tools were secured. She has two adult sons who will use them so she isn’t selling them. She decided to use the in-store credit.

She took it to Lowe’s and tried to use it. The associate told her she could not use the store credit without Jeff’s driver’s license number. She explained that she did not have his driver’s license because the police officer had taken it from Jeff’s wallet when he died in an accident.

Sorry, no store credit.

Then she asked for the manager. This continued for a bit, and she finally left.

She eventually found Jeff’s driver’s license number in some paperwork at home and returned to Lowe’s. She asked for the manager, telling the associate that she would only tell this story one more time. They eventually agreed to give her the $60. Lowe’s must believe there’s a band of fraudulent widows going around stealing in-store credit cards.

Revisiting Crystal’s Water Issue

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

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

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

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

Oh, the pleasures of home ownership.

You Know Your Life is Boring when…

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

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

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

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One Ringy Dingy, Two Ringy Dingy, and an Avalanche

I’m back! Ha! You didn’t even know I was gone, did you? We went to Myrtle Beach last week. It was beautiful: breezy, but not cold. We had a good time. How is it that you can have a great vacation and still be happy to get home? Vacations are like that.

There are mostly retired people at the beach this time of year, and a sprinkling of young parents with children who are not of school age yet. The hotel offered breakfast every morning. On Friday morning, someone’s phone started ringing (loud, bubbly music). I saw an older woman leave the buffet, and scurry back to her table where her husband sat comfortably, ignoring his wife’s regrettable ringtone selection (not his job). Meanwhile, the thing is playing full blast. She grabs the phone and looks at her text. It was photos of the grandkids. I know this because everyone could hear her tell her husband. Then things quieted down for a few seconds until her phone started again. Another text.

She starts trying to turn the phone off, but she doesn’t know how. While she’s trying, it goes off again. She continues to try to turn it off. Finally, her husband gets involved. He fools with it for a few minutes (clearly never having held the phone before), and suddenly it makes some horrible noise. Disgusted with her husband and her phone, she grabs the phone from him. If I’d been sitting next to them, I would have helped. I don’t think they ever figured it out, but she should get one of those grands to help her. Any four-year-old will do.

I found myself at Kroger yesterday, trying to restock with fresh veggies, get some salmon for dinner, and pick up a couple of ingredients for a new recipe I would like to try later this week. Kroger always has a display of their latest dishes. I usually check them out. I saw a butter dish that I liked, but I’d left my glasses in the car. I couldn’t see the sign with the price list. Sooo, I reached for it to bring it closer. How was I to know that a cup was sitting on the back part of the sign to hold it down… so no one would knock it over? The sign and the cup came smashing down. I don’t know how many other dishes it broke on its way to the floor where it shattered at my feet. It made a huge noise. A man looked at me, and then turned his head and walked away. Gutless but smart. Then an employee materialized from nothingness and said, “It’s okay. It’s okay. I’ve got it.” I said, “I’m so sorry” about three times while she kept trying to get me out of the way. Good grief!

Now I’m off to make the rounds. I’ll be knocking on your door soon. Batten down the hatches.

Still Not Dead Again

H is a country music fan. I’m not a huge fan, but I love me some Willie Nelson tunes. We took the car in for its 30,000-mile checkup and an oil change. As I waited for H, Elvis sang Always on My Mind.  When H came back, I told him what I’d been listening to. Then it went like this:

Me: Willie had a hit with Always on My Mind, too?

H: Oh, I forgot to tell you. Willie died.

Me: (shocked) What? Willie died and you forgot to tell me? How could you forget?

H: I don’t know. I just forgot.

Me: Really?!

H: Yeah. It happens.

Me: Come on.

H: Oh, wait. I’m not sure.

Me: What do you mean… you’re not sure?

H: Maybe I dreamed it.

Me: Are you messing with me?

H: No. Now I’m pretty sure I dreamed it. I think I dreamed that I got a text, a FOX news alert.

Me: Are you kidding? You never remember your dreams! (and you don’t even watch FOX)

H: No, no. I’m pretty sure I dreamed it.

Can you believe this guy? I quickly asked my friend, Bubba Google, and he said that H dreamed it. The great Willie Nelson survives, however, there have been many reports of his demise. Hoaxes. He even wrote a song about it, Still Not Dead. I’m pretty sure H is the source of the rumors.

Willie singing Still Not Dead

Snakes, be Gone

Though I’ve mentioned insomnia, nightmares, walking in my sleep, etc., I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned restless leg syndrome (RLS). It’s a common neurological movement disorder. Do you have it? More women have it than men. Something to do with our hormones (no doubt). Anyway, that’s why I couldn’t sleep last night. Twitchy.

H mentioned that he needed to go to Lowe’s for Snake-Be-Gone. I said, “Isn’t it a little late for that? Won’t they all be going to bed for the winter soon?” Then he told me. He saw another snake wiggling away from our doorstep! Good grief! So he wants to make sure they brumate somewhere other than our yard, that they make it back to last-year’s den, and don’t have to stay with us until they become active again in spring. That means it’s time for another Snake-Be-Gone application. I’m onboard but… You put it around the perimeter of your property to keep them out. It seems to work, but what if there’s one or more in your yard when you put the application down. Won’t they get trapped in your yard?!

Every time someone leaves the door open, you can hear me shouting, “Don’t let the snake in.” Why do they like our doorstep so much?

This is my oldest grand. She’s the serious one, not usually smiley, but she looks pretty happy here, doesn’t she?

The kids came down for the weekend. We took the Grand Trio to a pumpkin pickin’ place. There were baby goats, horse riding, and other activities. We went on a hayride to the pumpkin fields. We came home and had a cookout. Crystal came over and ate with us. Very nice weekend. The youngest said to me, “I go to school now, you know.” She seems to have adjusted. Good thing. This is only beginning.

Crazy Neighbor, Salt Kills, Roofers

Crystal called last night and said, “Someone is over there cutting the grass with a push mower.” Why they waited until it was almost dark, I don’t know.

A push mower? Not a self-propelled mower? That yard needs a Bush Hog. That grass is way too tall for a regular mower, and it has a pretty steep ravine. When Crystal took a closer look (we need to loan her our binoculars :)), she realized it was a woman who was pushing the mower. Her husband must be fed up with this ridiculous and unnecessary nuisance.  She started cutting the backyard first. By the time she got to the front yard, she either punked out from exhaustion, ran out of gas, it was too dark to see what she was doing, or – and this is just a wild guess – the mower broke. So now her neighbors have to look at a half-finished front yard until she returns to finish the job. That must be attractive.

I made the most delicious macaroni salad (forget any low-carb diet). I put all the usual suspects in it: onion, red bell pepper, pickles, tomatoes. But I also put a handful of shredded sharp cheddar and ham (chopped in little cubes) in it. I took some to Crystal. She called and said, “The macaroni salad was delicious, but you have to stop using so much salt.” I have no reasonable argument here.

The roofers are returning today. They had to replace some of the decking (plywood) under the shingles. I hope they’re doing a good job. I hate to get anything done that I don’t understand. If I don’t know anything about it, I can’t judge whether it’s a good or bad job until it rains, and sometimes it takes a couple of years to know if it’s going to last. After you do all your homework, I guess that’s where trust comes in.

The refrigerator is making funny noises again. Not too bad yet, but it will get worse. Trust me. H says we are never getting the ice dispenser in the door again. I agree.

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Spring Cleaning in Fall

It was a rough weekend sleep-wise. I experienced horrible non-sleep and horrible sleep peppered with crazy dreams, a little moving around, and then plain old insomnia. I was sluggish all weekend, but productive. Interesting, huh? Sometimes when you’re motivated, the mind overrides the body.

I got up Saturday morning and had a serious urge to clean the pantry (scary music here). Upon opening the door on Friday, I had detected a horrible smell. For a not-very-large house, it has a good-sized pantry. I think it’s what sold H on this house. When we moved in to this house, he took it upon himself to put things away in there. I never knew where anything was. I could never see any rhyme or reason to it (maybe in his mind). He always knew where everything was. Not me. There’s a lot of stuff in there. We have enough pasta to take us to 2050. Organizing saves money. Really. Now we won’t buy what we don’t need, and things won’t go over their expiration date. I hate waste. I think we have enough beans, too. Glenn Beck would be proud if it were only in an underground bunker.

I wish I’d taken a before picture so you could fully appreciate my fabulous organizational skills. I am nigh onto genius in this area. I can’t read a map, do higher math or remember the names of anyone I’ve met since 1989, but give me something to organize, and I will stun and amaze (I wish H would allow me in his garage). The offending odor turned out to be a rotten onion. Now it smells like herbs and spices in there – a little strong but not like a rotting corpse.

The other thing I got all aquiver about was limbing up the maple tree in our front yard. It’s a pretty thing, but the limbs were too low. You couldn’t even see the front door. It was team work. H did the sawing and clipping and lopping, and I dragged the limbs away and piled them up for him to cut into 4-foot sections later, and I also gave advice on which limbs to cut… Think about the episode where Lucy trimmed her Christmas tree, and you’ll get the picture.

My next intention is to prune the crepe myrtle, which is in bad need of a facelift. I’m itching to do it, but we have to wait until the weather is cold enough to ensure that it will not put out new growth after we prune it. I don’t want to stress it out. If I can stand it, we’ll wait until late winter. If I can’t stand it, we’ll do it as soon as it gets cold enough.

The guy comes to do the roof today: replace the ridge vent and take care of the four leaks. I’m going to the grocery store and my favorite farm stand and then to Crystal’s house where I will read my book. She’s at work. H will stay here and listen to the pounding. I hope they can finish the job today.

Have a good Monday.

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The Neighbor from Hell

Crystal lives in a nice neighborhood (And friendly. I’ve met more of her neighbors than mine). Everyone takes care of their yards and the exterior of their homes. There is no HOA. There are smaller, one-story houses like Crystal’s house, and larger, two-story houses. An attractive, one-story brick house is next-door to Crystal’s house. At a cursory glance, other than having a few crepe myrtles in need of pruning, it looked fine the day Crystal first looked at her house and made an offer. The grass was a normal height, and it didn’t draw any particular attention to itself.

A few weeks later, you couldn’t say the same. Things started to grow, and grow… Thigh-high grass now covers the front yard, all kinds of weeds are growing around and into the crepe myrtles, and a huge vine is threatening to block a drainage culvert on Crystal’s property. As the church lady would say, “It’s disgraceful.” And it is vacant.

Crystal walked down to the neighbors on the other side of the offending house and introduced herself. She asked if they knew who owned it. Boy, did she get an earful. His frustration obvious, the husband gave especially colorful details of run-ins he and other neighbors had had with the woman who owns it. I loved Crystal’s description of the husband, “Down to earth.” LOL There were a series of “discussions” with the owner: first asking her to cut the grass, then more agitated and direct conversations, and finally, after she kicked one neighbor off her property, the man stood in the middle of the street and screamed, “Cut your grass.” She apparently hates and has problems with all her surrounding neighbors. So the house sits and slowly rots. I’m not a psychiatrist, but I’m pretty sure she’s enjoying this. Who would allow an investment like that to decay? My nonprofessional opinion? A nut case.

The story goes that she got married and abandoned the house. Well, not at first. She moved to another part of town after her marriage. Her new husband wanted her to sell it, but she wanted to keep it “just in case” she ever needed a “backup plan.” During the first year, someone came every couple of weeks during the summer to cut the grass. After that it was every month or two, and now someone comes about twice a year to check on things. This has continued for seven years.

Crystal called the county. An inspector came by on Thursday. Crystal was at work, but we just happened to be there. H was digging up an ugly crabapple tree in Crystal’s front yard. The inspector said that the County’s criterion for acceptable grass growth is one-foot. He put a “warning” on the front door to cut the grass, and told H to tell Crystal to call in one week, and they will cut it. He also said that she could call them anytime it reaches one foot and they will cut it. I know her. She will be out there measuring it with a ruler. I’m sure they will bill the homeowner for this maintenance. The neighbor on he other side of the house told Crystal that the county put a lean on her door once. He assumed it was because she hadn’t paid for pervious grass cuttings.

The neighbor told Crystal that a tree from her yard fell in their backyard and their Homeowner’s Ins. had to pay for the damage. He said there’s still a huge gap in her fence that she has never repaired, and the weeds are hip-deep back there. Nature is reclaiming it. The inspector said he was only allowed to go as far as the front yard. He could not look at or do anything about the backyard, which means Crystal will have to deal with the vines growing through her fence. We have a robust real estate market here. Houses in that price range are snapped up as soon as they hit the market. Crystal’s neighbor told her that the guy who owned her house went next-door and cut the grass before he put the house on the market.