let there be…grapes

This was Saturday’s cleaning project.

The next-to-the-last piece of the putting-the-house-back-together project is this chandelier (the last piece is the replacement of the front door).  Yes, this is a cluster of grapes.  I spotted it in a Nebraska antique mall almost twenty years ago, but couldn’t figure out how to get it on the plane with me.  And I was very, very sad about that.

A few months later Banjo Man, returning from another trip to Nebraska, surprised me by shipping it home on the plane with him in a huge Rubbermaid container.  Each grape was wrapped in paper towels and the whole thing was encased in a sleeping bag.

Ah, love…

When the branch came through the ceiling it missed the chandelier by inches, but the light didn’t work.  We assumed the wires in the ceiling were damaged, but an electrician assured us this was not the case.  Was the lightbulb affected?  We hope that’s all it is, because we’ve bought another one of those 15+ year-life lightbulbs and the electrician is returning tomorrow to reinstall the lamp in the entry.

Last night I googled “grape cluster glass chandelier” and discovered that this light was most likely made in France.  The glass was probably hand-blown.  And had, in the past, sold for between $1600-$2250.

You can imagine how pleased my husband was with this information, as its price in Omaha had been $35.00.

It also has metal leaves that hang from individual chains.  I painted over the bits of rust with green paint, so it looks somewhat fresher.

Very soon we’ll be back to normal!


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the apple blanket

Well, it’s not exactly a blanket.  A comforter, actually.  I made it for my son Will’s first “big boy” bed about forty years ago.  He loved ladybugs and, in our small town, available fabric was limited to what was stacked in the basement of Sprouse Reitz.

(I bought a lot of flannel fabric there.)

So…back to ladybugs…

There was no ladybug fabric for the new comforter, so I settled on something similar:  red apples on a denim-looking background (hey, it was as close to the damn bugs as I could get!!!).  This comforter was only 45″ wide because I couldn’t afford to buy double the fabric to make it wider.  I backed it with an old green sheet.

Fast forward to six weeks ago, in Texas, as Will and I attempted to clean out the condo’s walk-in closet in preparation for the new flooring.

He dragged out this comforter and I immediately said, “Throw it out.”

That was not what he wanted to hear.  “Couldn’t you fix it?”

I spread it out on the floor and saw way too many rips and holes.  The beloved “Apple Blanket” had lived a full life and it was time for it to end.  I said as much, but Will balked.  Obviously he couldn’t shove it into the waiting garbage bag that easily.

“Couldn’t you save some of it?”

“For what?”

“A pillow or something, I don’t know, just anything.”

He is so much like his father.

So I found a small chunk of fabric without holes in it and cut it out.  I took off the backing and the batting and the yarn ties that held it together and folded it into my suitcase.

I suppose I can make a small pillow out of it, meaning Will would own the ugliest pillow in Austin.  Or I could add fabric around it to make it look like I planned it that way.  I don’t know.

But I can’t really complain too much, because the comforter I made in 1972, from flannel from Sprouse Reitz, is still on my bed.  It has worn thin in many places, but has yet to rip.  Until it does, it stays.

Quilts and comforters are meant to be used.  If someone has gifted you a quilt (and it is not a priceless antique or family heirloom) and its creator says to you, “Use it!!”, then do so.  The more you wash it and dry it, the better it will get.  And if it disintegrates in forty years, that’s okay.  Because you had–hopefully–forty years of warmth from it.

Which is a lot of snuggling.

The Apple Blanket did its job, and I guess a piece of it will hang around a while longer.





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the turkey takes the cake

My father found this leather turkey (actually a decanter made in Italy) many years ago at a yard sale in Connecticut. It was a big hit at Thanksgiving in 1994.

A few years later I rescued it from one of my mother’s purges and, when Thanksgiving celebrations were moved from her house to mine, I dug him out, cleaned him up (he’s susceptible to mold and mildew) and used him once again as a centerpiece.

He is a strange guy, but he makes me laugh. In 2019 we all autographed his tail. He seems to love presiding over the dessert table, don’t you think?

Ginny outdid herself this year with pear tart, chocolate mousse cake and tiramisu.

We are so spoiled by having a gourmet baker in our midst. It’s always hard to choose which one to sample so we usually end up trying all three right from the beginning.

The turkey is now packed away with the velvet pumpkins and the rest of the decorations to await next year’s party. It wouldn’t be the same without him.

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we made it!

Wednesday afternoon:

Walls are being primed while turkey is being brined.

Thursday morning:

We are ready!

Thursday afternoon:

This was the first time we’d all been together since Mom died in April, 2020.  Covid had kept us apart–no funeral, no mourning together–so this day was especially important.  The first Thanksgiving in two years!

I didn’t care if we had to eat in the basement living area or upstairs, in the middle of a mess.  Thanksgiving would happen.

We did rearrange the gallons of paint left behind for the next step, hiding a five-gallon bucket behind a chair and storing the rest in the bathroom shower stall.  Nancy came early and set the tables and made many trips to the downstairs refrigerator.  Banjo Man cleaned.

There were a few blips.  I followed the “roasting turkey breasts” directions from an tv episode of “America’s Test Kitchen”.  Banjo Man cut the backbone out of the breasts, just the way it was done on tv.  I dry-brined them.  They were roasted at 325 for an hour and a half, until the inner temp reached 130.  Then the oven temp was raised to 500 degrees so the skin could get crispy and brown and the inner temp could reach 165.

There was no smoke, but the smoke alarm had a nervous breakdown and absolutely wouldn’t stop screaming.  The windows and doors were opened, which made no difference.  Finally Banjo Man went out to the shed for a fan, which he aimed at the alarm.  Success!

And the new carving method with the electric bread knife?  Worked perfectly.

Blip #2?  No juice for the gravy!!  I’d assumed there would be from the breasts, but…nope.  On the tv show the chef had roasted turkey legs with chopped vegetables, then drained the whole thing to get eight cups of broth…done two days ahead of Thanksgiving.

I’d unfortunately skipped that part (you saw the pictures of my house, right?).

So the turkey gravy tasted like chicken gravy and wasn’t exactly fabulous.

But everything else was yummy and we ate our fill, even scraping the bottom of the green bean casserole dish where there wasn’t a green bean left.  Ha!

to be continued…



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happy thanksgiving 2021

And what a happy Thanksgiving it is!

My appetizer plates and napkins. What else but pumpkins???

Everyone I talk to is giddy with joy over their Thanksgiving plans this year.  So many people are surrounding ourselves with family and friends, making the food they missed last year, welcoming new grandchildren to the festivities, remembering–together–those who aren’t with us this year.

We are together again and that is everything.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!  


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there will be turkey

This is my Thanksgiving 2021 mantra.

Yesterday my one-man, non-English-speaking crew started repairing drywall.  And mudding the drywall.  Today he is sanding and priming, along with repairing the drywall that tumbled off the beam when the tree hit.  He doesn’t speak English, so Banjo Man’s attempts to tell him not to come to work today didn’t work.

My furniture is shoved into the middle of the living room/dining/kitchen area and covered with sheets.

A dumpster was just delivered and fills the parking spaces.  The huge chunks of wood from the tree are still there, too (someone was supposed to come get them).

In other words, it doesn’t look like Thanksgiving here.  Not yet.


Last night Banjo Man, Nancy and I set up the tables and chairs (temporarily) to see what would work.  We picked out tablecloths.  I starched and ironed napkins.  We made the potato casserole.

This morning I have decided to take the coward’s way out and leave the house for a couple of hours.  I will buy an electric bread knife (I saw a very cool way to carve turkey breasts on tv), gather paint chips (no one can remember what color my walls were painted) and buy myself a comforting sandwich at Subway for lunch.

And tomorrow I will look forward to many things, most of all desserts.



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maybe i should have said no

Two days before Thanksgiving.

When Nels, head of construction crew, called last night to ask if they could come today and start the drywall and the painting, I said “sure”.

Yes, it is the week of Thanksgiving and yes, I was counting on setting up tables and selecting and ironing tablecloths today.  And yes, I know it is important to get these important and time-consuming projects done before Thursday morning, but…who says “no” to anyone prepared to work on her house?

Not me, obviously, though I did have second thoughts immediately after I hung up the phone.

Which is why tequila was invented.

So at 7:30 this morning the work began.  The drywall has been screwed into place in various parts of the house and the taping is sure to happen any minute.

They intend to paint two of the walls and the ceiling, but I can’t remember what color paints we used in 2019.  I think we can come close.  I’m not worried about it.

The roof won’t be installed until December 2nd.  Fingers crossed for dry weather.

On the Austin front, the first half of the tiling project in the condo is happening.  I hope it’s going well.  I’m a little afraid to call Will and ask.  He is dealing with bronchitis, stripping baseboards, moving kitchen cabinets and moving all of the furniture into the one and only bedroom.

He probably doesn’t have time to answer his phone today.

Despite everything going on here, we are very much looking forward to Thanksgiving!






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if you know what’s good for you…

Banjo Man doesn’t do any of the above.  Isn’t he smart?

He loves to come into the office in the morning and sit down on my sewing chair–while I’m at my desk–and survey the fabric spread around the tables.  There is usually a new project in the design stage while another is being stitched together.  He is very careful to set his coffee cup in a spot I clear just for him.  I like that he comes to visit.

He never, ever says anything critical about how much fabric I have so he is welcome to stop by anytime he wants.

The funniest question he often asks is, “You’re not giving that one away, are you?”

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I am.

At least right now.

I have a big project in mind for January, a quilt I will most certainly keep only because it will take so much time and be so intricate and I’ve wanted to do the pattern for years.

Sometimes a quilt will be finished for a year or two before I discover who it would be perfect for.  Or I realize there is a bed at the lake or in Texas that needs another quilt.  Most of the time I create what I feel like and then see what happens.

I wonder what this will be…


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back to normal, kind of

A stack of new fabrics waiting their turn.

Now that the tree is off the roof and my house is safe and waterproofed, it is time to go back into the sewing room/office/music room and start a quilt.

We call this “stress sewing” in our house.  Much healthier than smoking, drinking and gambling.  And not as expensive…maybe.

An engineer came on Wednesday to decide what needs to be done.  His report will be submitted to the town for a building permit.  And then we’ll get a new roof.  Banjo Man thinks this will all happen before Thanksgiving, but I think he’s delusional.

Surely the interior work won’t begin until after Thanksgiving.   There will be eleven of us gathering AT LAST and don’t want the house torn up.

I think we’re getting a new front door.  And a lot of drywall patches.  And a new ceiling over the entry.

It can all wait until after November 26th, should anyone ask me.

Check out the “Caroline Herring” poster above my fabric stack.  Will heard her in Austin and grabbed a signed copy for me.  I’d never heard of her, but now I own several cd’s and absolutely love her voice.

Here’s one of my favorite songs.  Years ago I loved to play the fiddle part along with the wonderful fiddler on the cd.

Enjoy your day!

Posted in music, quilting, rhode island | 3 Comments

it’s gone, gone, gone

The local wrecker arrived Wednesday afternoon to lift the tree from the roof. It was quite a process, as you can see. Lots of ropes and prayers!

Bill, the tree removal expert, is on the left taking pictures as the giant limb is lifted into the air.

Now that the tree was gone, the contractor and the insurance agent arrived the next morning to survey the damage. An electrician arrived to make sure it was safe to turn on the circuit that controlled our propane fireplace.

I might be repeating myself, but the crew arrived early Friday morning to replace rafters, secure the broken ridge and waterproof the roof. Saturday they returned to cover the hole in the entry hall and remove damp drywall above the living room windows.

We were thrilled to discover that the header wasn’t damaged!

Now we wait for an engineer and a building permit. It could take a while, but we’re safe and warm and waterproof.

And grateful that the worst is over.

Posted in rhode island | 2 Comments