Well, this was exciting!  Not in the “Jack Ryan” death-defying style of exciting, but an interesting miniseries nonetheless.  We thoroughly enjoyed it.

It was originally a podcast before being turned into an original tv series for Amazon.  The episodes are short, so you can watch quite a few of them (there are ten in total) in one evening.

Julia Roberts plays a therapist helping American soldiers with their PTSD in a mysterious Florida facility.  That’s all I’m going to tell you so I don’t ruin the mystery.

An aside:  it’s amazing how beautiful that woman becomes when she smiles.




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reconnaissance mission


Table for two, please.

When asked what touristy thing she would like to do during her Thanksgiving week here in New England, my Texan daughter-in-law replied, “I’d like to eat in a real Italian restaurant.”

We have a lot of those here.  It was a matter of refining the request.  Fancy?  Casual?  Red sauce?  Gourmet?

I asked advice of many friends, all of whom said, “Federal Hill”.  Yes, that area of Providence has been the center of Italian dining since it was the home of Italian immigrants in the 1880’s.  It was the hub of the state’s Mafia organization, with shootings and killings galore in the wild days of the  1960’s, ’70’s and 80’s.


Federal Hill has always been an area for tourists and locals alike to eat some good Italian cooking from casual to fine dining.  In the past years it has become a bit dangerous at night and, aggravatingly, peppered with parking meters.  Banjo Man decided that we would drive up there and see for ourselves.  We would take the family to lunch next week IF the traffic wasn’t bad, IF we could find a place to park, IF it didn’t feel dangerous and IF we could find the perfect Italian restaurant.

I researched everything, of course.  And I settled on a restaurant called Andino’s.  It has a colorful Mafia history and great reviews on Tripadvisor.

The traffic was fine.  We didn’t get lost.  We even found a “free” parking space on a side street.  It felt like a long walk up Atwells Avenue, but that was only because it was the first cold and windy day of the season and we weren’t ready for winter yet, even though I’d worn a new sweater and a new coat.

Andino’s was crowded, so we sat at the bar and drank wine until our table was ready.  It was a lovely place, with linen tablecloths, flowers and lots of pleasant people working there.  Frank Sinatra songs serenaded us.

In other words, it would be perfect for our family lunch next week.

I had butternut squash and ricotta ravioli in a maple cream sauce for an appetizer.


Banjo Man had chicken escarole soup.  For my main course I chose eggplant parmigiana.


Does he look happy?


Clams in linguine with red sauce.

We were quite proud of ourselves for spending a Tuesday afternoon is such sophisticated surroundings.  We’d gotten out of the country and were in the big city for the first time in many years.

Our afternoon didn’t end there.  We stopped at Sciola’s bakery (everything baked in a 1920’s brick oven) for bread and pastry and at Venda Ravioli to admire the enormous array of cheeses and meats and olive oils.  We saved the wine shop for next week’s visit.

Sciola’s bakery window:



I think my little Texas family will like it here.




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it’s all about the tables

I’ve spent the last two days auditioning tablecloths.

I know, you’re really glad you’re not here to watch the process.  Kinda like watching paint dry, I’ll bet.  But I take it seriously.

We have two dining tables–one in the dining area and one in the living room–for Thanksgiving dinner.  Yes, it will be a little tight, but no one will care.  The house will smell like turkey, the conversation will joyfully flow, and there will be wine.

Banjo Man set up table #2 so I could measure and plan.  And then he fled to the basement, where he is busy painting a little bookcase.  He was so intent on doing a good job on this project (after a total disaster painting a wire bistro set) that he actually took the vintage bookcase to Home Depot to ask the paint guy what paint he should use.  No fewer than three people stopped him and asked if they could buy the bookcase before he got out of there with his little cans of primer and paint.

Anyway, back to the tables…


I changed to a different cross stitch cloth, the one made by my grandmother.


Pumpkins that didn’t make the cut.  Maybe next year!


This might work.  With the addition of sparkly lights and some artificial leaves.


Dining room table.  I wanted something blue so I could use my blue-trimmed wedding china.  Blue or white or gray napkins?  What color pumpkins?


I love this spider web cloth, but it might be a little too colorful.  But I’m going to iron it anyway and decide after I put the turkey in the oven.

So today I will be ironing tablecloths and napkins–something I really love to do.  It’s fun thinking about how pretty everything will look.  Holidays should be special events, if you’re up to it.  I remember my grandmother’s elegant dining room table and how impressed I was by the china and the tablecloth.  I will be using her crystal water glasses next week, too.

It’s a nice memory.

And getting together with friends and family is something to look forward to all year.

Time to plug in the iron…





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a banjo man success

On this miserable stormy, rainy day here in Rhode Island, I thought I’d share Banjo Man’s latest recipe.

It was actually delicious.

Sound the trumpets.

We’ve been cleaning out cookbooks, of which I have many, having belonged to the mail-order cookbook club (similar to the Columbia Records club back in the 1970’s).  In my remote little home, a new cookbook was the most wonderful thing to receive in the mail.

But times change, as do appetites and time and energy.  So old, unused-for 20-years cookbooks were donated to the library book sale.  We also found various cooking magazines, which Banjo Man dearly loved to buy.  Before he got rid of them he tore out this recipe from “Eating Well”, November/December 2008.

I will be honest here.  I do not like it when Banjo Man discovers a recipe and wants one of us to make it.  It annoys me in so many ways–and I will not reveal them now (aren’t you glad?).

But on Sunday I was suffering with allergies (to dust!!) after cleaning the basement for two days.  I was clutching a box of tissues and curled up on the couch when my ever energetic husband came upstairs with a new recipe.

Jesus, give me strength.

“I went through all the magazines before I threw them away,” he confessed.  “You don’t have to get up, except to fry the steaks.  I’ll make it myself.”

I liked the “you don’t have to get up” part, because I wasn’t going to anyway.

So off to the kitchen he went.  There was lots of banging and frying and clattering of bowls.

And the results?  It was actually delicious!  Who knew?


1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
4 strips bacon, cooked crisp and finely chopped
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp prepared horseradish
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Steam the sprouts until tender, 6-8 minutes.  Mix bacon, sour cream, horseradish, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  When the sprouts are cooked, put them in the bowl and toss to coat.  Makes 6 servings, 1 cup each–but we ate a lot more than that.  Next time I’ll double the recipe and figure that’s enough for 4-6 people.  Or great leftovers!

So there you go.  Give Banjo Man credit for his first culinary success!



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veterans day, 2018


Banjo Man in Vietnam.

tony uniform

Sarge, looking official.

1944 don winslow015

Don Winslow of the Navy, my wonderful father.




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after all these years


Out to lunch at Top of the Bay, at Oakland Beach in Rhode Island.

They’ve known each other for sixty-two years.  Mary (left) is 90.  My mother (right) is 92.  They lived across the street from each other back in the 50’s, in the “Leave It To Beaver” era of family life.

They were stay-at-home moms, had dinner on the table at 5:30 every night and reapplied their lipstick before their husbands were due home from work.  They may have even worn aprons.

They drank coffee and smoked cigarettes and went out dancing on Saturday nights.  Mary and her husband Pasco always won the dance contests and returned with champagne.

Eventually we moved to the country, Mary and her family to California.  They would later return to Rhode Island for many years, until Mary moved to Florida.  Mom and Mary talked on the phone several times a week.  They still do, especially with my mother in an assisted living home and Mary in a senior apartment complex.  They now live 25 miles apart, but it may as well be 200 miles.  So I organized a day out and off we went.

They are, as the saying goes, as “different as night and day”, but those early bonds go deep.

I hope I’m still having lunch with my girlfriends when I’m 90, don’t you?


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banjo man’s house

I often refer to the lower level of our home as “Banjo Man’s house”, because his office is downstairs.  As is a bathroom.  And a rapidly-improving kitchenette.  Full-sized fridge (to house all of his health food products), living room, twin beds, gas fireplace, two easy chairs, three enormous bookcases, exercise equipment and a large flat screen tv.

All of that has been upended by the continuing improvements.


New vinyl floor for the little kitchen.


Green walls have been painted gray.  The kitchen will be finished in December.


Bookcases have been cleaned out and organized.

I’ve urged my husband to slow down, to pace himself, to put down the paint brush and put up his feet.

He doesn’t listen to me.

The ugly stairs are going to be covered with beautiful carpet this week.  The guest beds will be reassembled and decorated, thanks to a trip to Home Goods.


There’s plenty left to do, but although we’re pretty tired we’re really pleased with the way it’s turning out.

Please feel free to come visit!!!!


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starting november right


Gift from Harley Chick.

Yesterday was our annual fall fabric shopping trip in Massachusetts.

Sound the trumpets, make the coffee, gas up the car and be on the road by 8:30!

We–wild women that we are– look forward to it all year.  As we are not gambling in the local casinos or buying designer shoes or haunting shopping malls, we have a little extra cash in our handmade tote bags to indulge our sewing passions.

Aunt Pat, Harley Chick and I returned to our favorite place, Franklin Mills, for a leisurely stroll through quilting fabric, yarn, notions, patterns and gifts.


Beautiful colors.

I shopped for fabric to make seat covers for Banjo Man’s little dining chairs in the updated Man Cave.


The winner.


Runners up.

Aunt Pat looked at afghan patterns.  Harley Chick bought elastic.  We admired everything.

Then we made our way–via GPS–to Milford and a Panera’s for lunch.  Check out what they’re selling.  I almost bought one to stick in the freezer for Thanksgiving week.  This picture unfortunately doesn’t show the three-flavored danish pasty ring that I was drooling over.


 One more stop: JoAnn’s Fabrics.  Flannel was purchased.   As was foam, for the chair cushions.


A gift from Aunt Pat.

And so another November shopping trip came to an end.  Such a treat to be with these two women on a gorgeous autumn day in New England!

I count myself lucky.


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fifty shades of gray

No, I’m not blogging about that ridiculous book.

I’m talking about paint chips, folks!  Do you know how many shades of gray paint can be found at Home Depot?  Between Behr and Glidden, there has to be at least sixty of them.

And what was I doing at Home Depot in the middle of a weekday afternoon?  Well, Banjo Man informed me that he wants to change the paint color in the Man Cave.  Great idea, said I.  No problem.  Go for it.

Banjo Man:  Can you go to Home Depot right now and get some paint?  I want to get it done before the kids get here.

Me:  I need to get dressed.  And then I’ll go get paint chips and we can see what looks best.

Banjo Man:  What color?

Me:  I don’t know.  I have to think about it.

Banjo Man hates when I say that.  I thought his head would explode, so I offered, “I’m thinking…a soft gray.”

Banjo Man, frowning:  What makes gray soft?

Me:  I don’t know, but it means hopefully it won’t look like the inside of an aircraft carrier.  Just wait and see.

He agreed that gray would look nice and go with what is in the room now, but because of his particular color blindness, he thinks everything blue, brown and taupe is a shade of green.  It has made for some rather unpleasant arguments over the years.

So I headed off to Home Depot to see what I could find, hurried home to tape a bunch of paint chips to the wall, then began the process of elimination.  Banjo Man was surprisingly cooperative with the slow pace of the selection process.

And so, without malice or hurt feelings and in the spirit of cooperation, we agreed on a shade called “Silver Bullet”.  I hope it looks nice, but my attitude is the same as when I go to the hairdresser to get my hair cut:  Whatever happens is better than what I have now, so anything will be an improvement!”


The winner!




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the end of the ugly stairs, hopefully

Here’s the guy who greeted me at the flooring store.  After I pet him and told him how handsome he was, he stuck his nose in my crotch and refused to let me look at carpet.

The embarrassed store owner dragged him away and put him behind a gate.

Thank goodness.


Bad dog.

I think we’ve had ugly stairs for maybe 20 years.  Neither one of us can remember when we ripped up the very worn blue carpet and painted the wooden stairs pale yellow.

I have no idea what I was thinking at the time.

Fact:  I am surrounded by decorating mistakes.

I despair.  Will I live long enough to correct them all?  Or will I quit caring?

Anyway…I took home some samples and picked out what I hope and pray will be an attractive covering for our stairs to the basement (and the glorious Man Cave) of our raised ranch home.

Banjo Man is excitedly pushing these improvements and engineering the long-awaited updates to the Man Cave (and guest area for company).  I would prefer to hide in my office and stare helplessly at the mess.


I don’t know what to do.  No matter how much I clean and toss and organize and rearrange, I still end up with something like this.

Clearly I have work to do, but I think I’ll bake cookies instead.




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