by Valerie Nusbaum

We’ve had crazy weather, good food, and too many medical appointments. We’ve run errands; sent birthday cards; watched TV shows and movies; and talked with family and friends via email, text, and telephone. Mom and I made a floral arrangement for the coffee table. Randy and Steve solved a lot of the neighborhood problems during their man-meetings at the back door, and we’ve paid way more for gas and groceries than we should have.

None of these things, however, warrant an entire newspaper column. Randy hasn’t done anything that has caused me to shake my head or roll my eyes, at least nothing that I can write about publicly. That said,  I have a few quick things I can share with you.

As you know, my mother is staying with us while she recuperates. At her own home, Mom doesn’t have as many TV channels or streaming services as Randy and I do, and she had even fewer channels at the “home” during her stay in rehab. She’s been enjoying a variety of new programs and shows while she’s here. Last week, after hearing her complain (again) that she’s seen everything on the Hallmark and Lifetime channels, I asked if she’d like me to queue up an HBO series for her. That seemed like a good idea, so I put on episode #1 of The Undoing, knowing that Mom likes Hugh Grant. She doesn’t know Hugh Grant personally, mind you, but she thinks he’s dapper and amusing. Not so much so in this series. After viewing the entire first episode, Mom disgustedly pronounced to Randy that, “That girl was naked! I saw ALL of her.”  I told Mom that she didn’t have to watch any more of the series and that I’d find something else for her. 

“Well, I have to see how it ends now, don’t I?” Mom said. She proceeded to binge watch the rest of the series in two days and is now halfway through Big Little Lies.  This one, she said “is not as good as the other one.” Well, Hugh Grant can’t star in everything.

Our friends Loberta Staley and Susie Gaither both celebrated birthdays, as did Dolly Long. Dolly is my friend Peggy Stitely’s mother, and she had 90 candles on her cake this year. If Peggy and I take after our mothers, we have some good years ahead of us.

Years ago, I gave Randy a restaurant-style waffle maker. He’s perfected his waffles and treats us to them at least once a month. We had some this morning. I did a corned beef brisket in the oven, along with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. My family misses celebrating the holiday at The Shamrock, though. It’s not quite the same thing when we dress up like leprechauns at home.  Honestly, my mother has been with us for three full weeks, and I’ve cooked everything in my repertoire: meatloaf, chicken, ham, mac & cheese, burgers, chow mein, seafood, fruit and vegetable salads, soups, pasta, and everything else I can think of. We’ve also had quite a bit of takeout recently, and either Randy or I have made a grocery run nearly every day. How can three people eat so much and why, oh why, don’t my pants fit anymore?  If I may, I’d like to recommend the Cobb salad from Chick-fil-A, the pizza steak sub and fries from Rocky’s, and pretty much anything from Los Amigos.

It’s also income tax season, and Randy and I have been working on getting ours filed. We did Mom’s taxes, too. I always get a good feeling when that chore gets checked off the to-do list. I get an even better feeling if there’s a refund involved.

There were two visits to the cardiologist during this month.  Randy questioned the practice of a cardiologist putting a patient on a treadmill and raising the heart rate and blood pressure, thereby stressing the heart, just to see if anything bad happens. He has a point.

We also had a freak March snowstorm. Plans were canceled and a tree fell and caused some damage.  Never fear, though, because the weatherman predicted 70-degree weather in a few days. The older folks are probably saying, “That’s why so many people get sick.”

A few weeks ago, I received an envelope from The Catoctin Banner addressed as “Fan Mail for Val Nusbaum.” Inside the envelope was another envelope, beautifully printed, and a card from Grace Borell. What a lovely surprise! Thank you, Grace, for your kind and gracious words about my column and writing style, and for taking the time to write such a thoughtful note. And, thank you, Deb Abraham, for forwarding it to me. If I haven’t said it enough, a handwritten note has the power to uplift spirits and to brighten even the darkest day.

We did some cleaning, although my spring cleaning hasn’t begun yet.  Usually, by April, I’ve done windows, blinds, and curtains in at least half of our rooms. Now I’m finding myself thinking that they don’t really look all that dirty.

I did do a couple of new paintings, and I released prints of them. They’re selling pretty well.  Most importantly, I managed to write nearly 900 words about nothing of any importance. 

Happy Easter and happy spring to all of you!

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