the sweetest woman in the world

Happy Birthday to my mother-in-law, who passed away at the age of 94 in 2003.

Everyone loved her.

And we all miss her terribly.

I’ve mentioned this before, but she taught me to can fruit, make jam and cook apple butter. She was a welcome visitor to our little mountain home in the fall when the fruit was ripe for picking. She would arrive from Nebraska with her apron and her paring knife, all set to sit on her stool at my counter and peel things.

She told me where pickles came from (yes, you can laugh).

We shared a love for BLT sandwiches and potato soup, quilting and children and music…and so much more.

I am grateful for the memories. as everyone in the family is also. We were so lucky to have had this loving and kind woman in our lives for so many years.

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peppers, dip and soda pop


What does this mean? What is my refrigerator telling you?

Answer: Will is coming!

We pick him up at the airport Wednesday afternoon and I’m sure that on Thursday morning he’ll be sauteeing peppers and cooking eggs.

He’s going to need sustenance for all the chores we have planned for him to do.

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See the wasp nest? We have sprayed six of them hanging from the eaves of the house. We assume they are yellow jacket’s nests, but intense Googling has shown that bald-faced hornets make similar (if not identical) paper nests.

These were small. Banjo Man and I waited until after sunset and then sprayed the heck out of them.

The wasp problem was not solved, though. But the yellow jacket population certainly decreased. The remaining issue? The bald faced hornets.

I found an old trap we’d stored years ago. And I bought another one. One for the front yard, one for the back.

The hornets ignored the traps for days. I added honey to the water in one and apple cidar vinegar to the other trap (the upper chambers are designed for liquid).

Still nothing. I watch the b-f hornets avoid them as they buzz around the upper deck when I was trying to enjoy iced tea and a book.

This morning I put a wad of hamburger (guess what I’m grilling for dinner!) in the bottom chamber of each trap. And I wait. Surely they can’t resist meat!

I’ve ordered three essential oils–clove, geranium and lemon grass–to put in a spray bottle with water and dish soap. I will soak cotton balls with peppermint oil for the tables on the deck. Supposedly hornets hate peppermint oil.

And I am tempted to buy a couple of little lemon grass plants, also a repellent.

Years ago we tried using a homemade wire trap and mixing a can of Swanson’s white chicken meat with 1/2 tsp of Fipronil. The wasps take the meat back to the queen and kill her. It worked, so we’re going to do that again as soon as we make a new trap.

Will that work with the evil bald-faced hornets? I don’t know. We have yet to spot a nest in any of the surrounding trees. We keep looking.

And I keep searching for help on the internet.

Advice, anyone?

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a mini road trip and a doctor visit

We’re heading to Coeur d’Alene today to meet with a new oncologist. An oncologist for the summer. Banjo Man needs to have someone here to administer his medication every three months. It will be a three-hour round trip, so while we’re in CDA we’re going to hit a couple of stores and eat lunch at MacKenzie River Pizza.

He is doing very well, despite the realizations that all those radiation treatments have sapped his energy and his stamina.

Key words: acceptance and patience.

I keep a close watch on him, but he enjoys (understatement!) his time up at the cabin and calls me frequently to tell me that all is well.

We await the latest PSA blood test results. He had a good video conference with his surgeon last week. And his very own oncologist, our Angela, arrives with Jeff and the kids on July 7 for a week of lake fun.

Our days end early, after a little tv and sunset-watching time.

No complaints.

Son Will flies in next week and will launch into power washing, weed whacking and window washing after he unpacks his suitcase. Ben, Amber and John arrive the week after that, so more help is on the way. We’re grateful for it. The beach needs chairs and kayaks. The brush needs to be piled and burned.

Every time Banjo Man, keys jangling in his hand, opens the back door to head to the cabin, he annouces, “I’m the luckiest man in the world!”

This is an old photo from last year, but it says it all.

Posted in family, lake, the cancer fight | 2 Comments

outhouse decor

My mission, given to me by Banjo Man, was to find a holder for a package of hand wipes and a very small, very narrow basket for their disposal.

For the outhouse.

At the cabin.

Up on the mountain.

My favorite antique shop is located conveniently next to the Pie Hut, so before meeting a friend for lunch a couple of weeks ago, I browsed through aisles of “stuff”.

So much stuff.

Having spent over three months this past winter getting rid of “stuff” in my basement, there was nothing on the shelves or hanging from the ceiling that appealed to me. Absolutely nothing. BUT I had to find something suitable for the outhouse, for the sake of cleanliness.

As you see in the photo above, I found the perfect holder. Ugly, bent, chipped and overpriced, but still…I know my husband would love it. Just to be sure, I texted him a photo.

While I was enjoying a piece of pie next door, he texted me back and said it was perfect.

I also found another ugly, bent and overpriced object:

Yes, this is a mini gold waste basket.

I told Banjo Man they were early Father’s Day gifts. He was thrilled and the next morning drove off to the cabin to install them.

He sent me pictures.


Such an improvement over 2022’s version:

Posted in family, lake, secondhand stuff, shopping | 3 Comments

a very good deed indeed


This tree is a lot bigger than it looks in this photo.

Last week I confided to my friends–we were having our first Ladies Dinner and celebrating neighbor Yvonne’s birthday–my worries over Banjo Man and the downed tree project.

He had made four cuts earlier in the week and it had completely exhausted him. Completely.

The guys in Texas were anxiously waiting for June and the chance to help, but none of them had ever manned a chain saw.

Which meant I needed to tiptoe around Banjo Man’s ego and somehow get help. I was worried, really worried, that this project was bigger than my guys could handle.

In the meantime, it was very difficult to get down to the beach. Practically impossible without a walking stick, sturdy shoes and exceptional balance. I had two out of three.

Help came from one of our neighbors, who offered to take care of it after Yvonne explained the situation. And take care of it he did.


Can you believe this???? He wouldn’t accept any payment, so I made him a large pan of enchiladas, with brownies for dessert.

It didn’t seem like enough.

Banjo Man was so relieved. He admitted he wasn’t up to the job and didn’t know when or if he would be. The “radiation realizations” are coming fast and furious now and he is learning to be realistic as to how much he can accomplish in a day…or an hour.

I am taking my coffee down to the beach this morning. Because I can! Finally!

Posted in friends, lake | 5 Comments

rock of ages

This rock (boulder??) is usually underwater, close to the dock. But the water is still low and, while it is coming up fairly quickly, I have time to ponder it.

An ancient anchor, perhaps? Or have I watched too many Neolithic documentaries.

Sometimes I think it looks like a head, Easter Island style. Only this one is smiling.

It’s close to a large circle of rocks that look like a big campfire ring. I noticed it last fall when the water went down. I still think the rocks are arranged in the remnants of a circle.

This isn’t the best picutre, but do you see it? Or am I imagining things?

This beach is a sacred place to me, as are the lake and the mountains that surround it. If only rocks could talk…

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and it’s may!

The sun has been shining, the skies blue. Banjo Man and I have been enjoying our busy days here so much we can hardly stay awake until 9 PM and bedtime. I do think it’s time to slow down a bit.

There has been a lot of work going on up at the cabin. I’ve been waiting for Banjo Man to realize he can’t continue at this pace, can’t do this kind of construction work, can’t keep up. After all, he finished 37 rounds of radiation less than two months ago.

Yesterday evening my worn out husband and I Had A Talk.   And of course he agreed with everything I said.  Stop laughing, he really did.

In the meantime I’ve been filling the freezer with meals.  The usual suspects–shepherd’s pies, meatballs, lasagnas, ribs–are stacked up in the freezer.  Today I’m baking cookies. I’ve enjoyed every minute in the kitchen, though it is reasonable for friends and family to worry that I’m overdoing it.  I’m not!  I’m just having fun, folks.

But… I’ve started back to water aerobics and that, well, that is doing me in. In a good way. I’m glad I’m getting in shape again, but my old body is in shock.  

Saturday, while BMan was up at the cabin, I spent a sunny afternoon down here at the lake setting up furniture on the porch and deck.  Washing tables and chairs is an annual chore I really enjoy.  It means we’re ready for summer, so bring on the sun!

We’ve attempted to clear some of the path to the beach, but it’s an extremely  tough project.

This is definitely a work-in-progress.  And won’t be happening again any time soon.

Today is Cookie Day–I have four batches of dough in the refrigerator–so I’m not doing anything else.  I have a stool to sit on while I roll dough into balls.  And this afternoon I will sit on the beach and read for a while.   Banjo Man will be in his office this morning and then will have lunch with a client in town.  

Another perfect day in paradise.


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it has begun

It took me several days, but I finally woke up.

Totally overestimating my energy level, I assumed I would “hit the ground running” the minute I arrived at the lake, as I’d done in years past.

Uh, no.

Banjo Man and I trudged to town Saturday morning to buy supplies. I’d refused to get back in the car on Friday, so we’d taken that day off to unpack the car and stagger around the house looking at the lake.

It was a two-cart trip to Walmart.

Even with all those groceries waiting for me, I still couldn’t drum up the energy to do anything in the kitchen. I told myself that I needed to recover from a nine-day road trip I still worried that I was suddenly too old to cook, that my family would arrive in June to find frozen pizza and do-it-yourselves burgers.

After several days of semi-consciousness I awoke on Tuesday with a thrilling desire to cook my 27 pounds of ribs (on sale at Super One, hurray!!!). After they were in the oven (275 degrees for 5+ hours) I continued on to make two crockpots of lasagna sauce.

Not done yet, I made a 7-quart pot of turkey vegetable soup.

And then I drove over to My French Friend Janou’s house to finally say hello to her and pick up the packages I’d had delivered to her house in the past two weeks.

Yesterday I went to water aerobics. Heaven! I came home and took a one-and-a-half hour nap, but still…

Today I’m assembling lasagnas. Then Banjo Man and I are going to deal with the tree that is blocking the path to the beach. He is going to saw a chunk out of it, but we’ll save the rest of the job for when the boys arrive. We’ll move a couple of chairs down to the beach and I am lobbying for an afternoon campfire.

Will left it set up before he returned to Texas last August.

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rookie mistake

We should have known better than to attempt this.

This picture was taken Wednesday morning outside of Livingston, Montana.

We had seen snow for two days.

We’d thought it was beautiful, something we’d never seen on our June road trips in the past.

I drove for a couple of hours Wednesday morning and then we stopped on the west side of Livingston for a quick pit stop. When I paid for my coffee the woman at the register wished me a good day (as they do in Montana) and I thanked her and said we were heading to Missoula.

She winced, then said, “Be careful. I’ve been hearing the visibility is bad.”

That should have been my first clue.  I double-checked my two weather apps on the phone and there was nothing happening.  Cloudy, temperature dropping, a chance of rain in Bozeman (which was on the other side of the mountain range we were about to traverse), nothing to worry about.

Banjo Man took the wheel and we stupidly headed west, into the mountains and toward the Bozeman Pass.

It wasn’t long before we realized we were in a snowstorm.  A giant flashing sign told truckers to put on their chains.  We couldn’t have turned around at this point.  Surrounded by slowly moving cars and semi’s, we had no choice but to keep going.

This was before it became bad., just the beginning of the storm.

Soon we were engulfed in white-out conditions.  The only way to know we were still on the steep mountain pass was when–thankfully–a gust of wind blew snow off the road for a few seconds and we could see the pavement and the line marking the lanes.  We cautiously followed the tail lights of the car and truck in front of us and hoped they could see better than we could.

After ten minutes of this, all the vehicles came to a stop.  We assumed there’d been an accident.  We realized we could be stuck on the pass for hours, so we turned off the car to conserve gas and saved the charges on our cell phones.  I knew we would be fine–we had extra jackets and a couple of blankets, along with the space blankets I’d tucked into the glove compartment for emergencies like this–but it was a very uncomfortable situation.

After an hour and fifteen minutes, the traffic began to move.  Eventually it turned into one lane and then we passed several trucks and a couple of cars who had been in some kind of accident, causing the blockage.  Another blockage further along stopped traffic again (we were only going about 10 mph, but eventually we were over the mountain and into Bozeman.

We stopped at the first gas station to fuel up and escape the car.  I asked the young man for a restaurant recommendation, which turned out to be across the parking lot and attached to the Best Western we’d stayed at last fall.  It was time to reconnoiter.

It was snowing.  I checked the weather apps again.   They had no clue there was an issue.

As we waited for our food to be served, we decided we would stay in Bozeman overnight and wait for the weather to clear.  We had two more passes to go over before getting to Butte.  I was in no mood to risk crossing the Continental Divide.  Banjo Man agreed, but was disappointed to be stopping at 2:00 PM.  He even whined about it.  A lot.

After lunch I went to the ladies’ room and ended up having a conversation with two young women there.  One told me there were “cameras” she was checking as she was about to head east, over the very same pass we’d just driven.  I advised her against it.

In the meantime, Banjo Man had talked to our waiter and asked how to get information.  The two women at the hotel reception desk had checked and pronounced the next two passes wet, with possible icy patches, but crossable.

I begged to differ.  I started to sweat.  Since the whole breast cancer experience I do not get myself into any remotely scary situations.  I used up every ounce of courage in my DNA in 2019.  I am now a sniveling coward,  and I am not ashamed to admit it.

My husband, on the other hand, is his usual invincible self.  He wanted to know how many towns were between Bozeman and the next pass.  The snow stopped.  He promised to stop if the bad weather returned.

I was not happy.

The women at the hotel had told me about a Montana website that had hourly camera footage of points along the passes.  I checked the site every fifteen minutes.  They looked clear enough, but a storm could come up suddenly and then what?

Banjo Man kept driving.  We climbed the first pass.  I clutched the door handle and whimpered the whole way.  Son Will called during this climb, which was a good distraction.

We climbed the second pass a little bit later.  By this time I was not speaking to my husband.  Unless it was to give curt directions, I would not speak to him again until later the next day.

My determined husband wanted to drive another two and a half hours to Missoula.  The roads were dry, but that would mean we would have been in the car for twelve hours.  And for what reason?  We had all the time in the world to get to Idaho.  There was no reason to push this hard.

I voiced my opinion as to his sanity, but Banjo Man was undeterred.  Getting to Missoula would mean an early morning start the next day and an arrival at the lake before noon.  I silently took the wheel for an hour and cursed him under my breath.

We crawled into Missoula at 7 PM.   I was asleep before 9.

Lessons learned: check “” before driving into the mountains.

And don’t give in to Banjo Man ever again if he wants to have a 12-hour travel day.






Posted in family, road trip, travel | 8 Comments