moving day amidst the virus


A very quiet Main Street meant plenty of parking spaces.

This day took weeks to accomplish.  In the time of the Evil Virus, nothing is easy.  We all know that, don’t we!

The administrators of my mother’s former home, a lovely studio apartment in an assisted living complex, eventually agreed to let me and a couple of movers empty her place of her furniture.  Daughter Nancy, who works at that facility, was (thank God) able to pack up everything that could be put in a car and had been delivering it to me for sorting and storing.

It had taken weeks to find a moving company willing to take the job.  I was getting pretty frustrated, as time was running out and there was no way Banjo Man and I could move a small couch, entertainment center and bed by ourselves.  Even if we had a truck, which we don’t.

It all worked out.  And I will be eternally grateful for how nice everyone was.  In these very stressful times, I think it might be hard to be nice.  But it’s more important than ever, of course.  And the two sweet young men who agreed to the health protocols (temperatures taken, forms filled out, wearing masks and gloves) were nothing but helpful.

As were the nurses and housekeepers and CNA’s.  Such kindness and caring is appreciated more than anyone could imagine.

Nancy and I led the moving van to her second-floor apartment (she was giving the couch and a dresser a home) and then to my house to drop off the rest before heading to the dump.

It was a gorgeous day.  I’d expected something to go wrong, but nothing did.  So over the next couple of weeks I’ll go through Mom’s stuff and see what can be donated (when the stores start taking donations) and what she will need in the nursing home.

Here’s something funny that was on Bonnie Hunter’s website yesterday:

fabric stay at home

One of the last remaining quilt fabric stores within an hour radius of my house announced its closing yesterday.  Driving to Mystic, CT to look at fabric and enjoy a lunch out and a view of the estuary was always a treat.

I’m afraid this is just the beginning of small shops closing down.

Quilters are good at staying home.  There are all sorts of online “quilt-a-longs” via blogs and websites and online shops to keep the sewers entertained.  Many groups are making masks.  I watched a video on how to make them and intended to sew my little fingers off for local fireman, etc. but discovered there is no elastic.

Ordering online means waiting until mid-May or later to get a spool.  And I refuse to believe that things won’t be greatly improved by the middle of May.

My mantra:  This can’t last forever.

Hang in there.  Stay safe.  Stay home.






Posted in family, rhode island | 2 Comments

oh, my goodness, she’s 40!


Very proud of her dad’s fish.

We wish you a wonderful birthday, dear Nancy!  Although we can’t celebrate together, we will eventually, when the Evil Virus has dissipated and peace returns to the land.

Even though our birthday trip to Austin had to be cancelled, we can make plans for another time.  The Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco awaits!


Happy reunion with her big brothers.


Posted in family, rhode island | Leave a comment

i get by with a little help…

…from my friends!

Harley Chick’s son works at the local supermarket.  (Can we have a round of applause for the grocery store workers, please?  These folks are keeping the food on the shelves and making it possible for us isolated folks to eat.)

So Harley Chick asked her hard-working, exhausted son if he could please find flour and sugar for her friend More Pie to purchase.


Come to Mama!!!

It took several days, but her son kept his eye out for a new delivery and sure enough, success!  You are looking at a four-pound bag of sugar and a five-pound bag of flour.  Such a beautiful sight on my kitchen island!!!!

It was like Christmas.  I kid you not.

Now I can bake again.  And wanting to bake something is such a normal reaction in times of trouble.  We need a little comfort, a little treat with that afternoon cup of tea or our mid-morning chat with fresh cups of coffee.

Banjo Man has stopped getting on the scale.  He has also asked for chocolate chip cookies.

We put in another grocery order for Friday, but yesterday the employees of Instacart went on strike.  I selfishly hope it’s resolved before Friday so I have a shot at getting milk and vegetables, but if it’s not?  We’ll survive.

And that’s what we’re all trying to do:  survive.  With grace.  And hope.  With kindness.  And by helping each other.

Little things, like having flour and sugar, have become big things.  A ten-minute visit with Harley Chick–through a basement window– becomes the highlight of the week.

Phone calls and emails and texts keep us connected, thank goodness.  Everyone I know is self-isolating, following the rules, and waiting patiently for this to be over.  It’s going to be a long month, but there’s a bright and gorgeous and virus-free summer ahead.



Before Corona.  And what will be again.



Posted in family, food, friends, rhode island | 2 Comments

day 17 in the house

In honor of a new week I am wearing a new sweater.  It’s not new new, but it’s different from my thread-covered ivory wool cardigan.

I’m in a cowl-necked maroon pullover now and feeling quite spiffy.

And no, there will not be a selfie.

But I will be Face-Timing with my 93-year old mother this afternoon.  She moved to a nursing home in the midst of the Evil Virus and has been quarantined along with all of the other residents.

They are being kept safe, which is such a comfort and relief, but the lack of contact with family and friends is taking its toll despite the staff’s best efforts.

I don’t know if my mother will know who I am.  This is a new, heartbreaking development and I am still trying to cope with the sadness it brings.  Because I can’t see her or talk to her (she is too confused to make sense on the phone) during this isolation period, I’m afraid her descent into dementia is increasing rapidly.

Let’s hope this afternoon’s “visit-by-I-phone” is comforting for both of us.

Ottis 90 party076

Romance Writers of America conference, New Orleans, LA  1990 (or 1991)




Posted in family | 3 Comments

the hoarding bakers

Have you risked your health to go to a grocery store lately?  We’ve all heard of toilet paper shortages, but did you know there is NO FLOUR?  No sugar.  No brown sugar.  No yeast.

Does this mean that people are home baking up a storm?  They must be.  Pies and cakes and breads (I wonder how many bread machines were retrieved from basements) could be lining kitchen islands like a county fair display.

Back in the old days when I was a young mother out West, I baked my own bread every week.  I made my own pizza crusts, my own cakes, cookies and doughnuts.

We all did.

I bought yeast in large cans.  I bought flour in huge bags.

We all did.

I don’t do that any more.  I buy those supplies in small amounts.  So when the Evil Virus descended upon the earth, I was not prepared with extra bags of flour and sugar.  I guess it never dawned on me that we would be isolated for so many weeks and that I would feel like baking.

Having something yummy to snack on is a real treat during these long days at home.  I’ve limited my baking to once a week and we make the treats last as long as we can.  But I am down to 4 cups of flour and 2 cups of sugar now.

My friend Barb, who bakes pies and cakes and cookies on a regular basis, was shocked by not being able to find flour at the grocery stores.  She even called the folks at King Arthur to order directly from them.  Their response?  Don’t even think about it.  It would be two weeks before they were caught up.

When I placed on online order from Shaw’s, a local chain, I wasn’t able to find flour.  I thought it was a computer glitch until Barb set me straight.  Son Ben said there was no flour on store shelves in Round Rock either.

So the world is baking.  I like the idea of people discovering the fun of baking cookies, the challenge of making a pie crust, the thrill of watching a loaf of bread rise in the oven.

In spite of the Evil Virus, maybe the country smells like…pie.

What a happy thought!




Posted in family, food, rhode island | 7 Comments

day 15 and it’s time for a ride

I have been out of the house three times in 15 days.***  That might sound like a lot, considering the enormous self-isolation being imposed and asked for by our various leaders.  But once was in extremely sanitary conditions as we moved my mother from her assisted living facility (where I was screened by having my temperature taken) to a nursing home (where we had to remain in the driveway).   I saw two people, tops.

Another trip was a brief outing to our mini-CVS where I bought batteries for our thermometer.  It took all of five minutes and then I fled to the car to wipe myself and my battery package with antiseptic wipes.

The third trip was again to the mini-CVS to pick up a prescription.  You see, despite having been isolated for two weeks I somehow picked up an ear and throat infection.  We cannot figure out how.  Was it on the mail?  On the Amazon delivery boxes?  I have seen no one and done nothing, honest.  We even ordered our groceries online this week because I wouldn’t let Banjo Man go to the grocery store.

Everyone else we know is going to the grocery store.  

I have tried to find something positive about this isolation.   Let’s see…I can wear the same clothes four days in a row.  I don’t have to wash my hair every other day.  Sometimes I think about it and then I shrug, why bother?

Is this too much information?

I will be a pretty princess once again, someday, when this Eternal Virus Nightmare has ended.  We women will all come out of our caves with our hair fixed, our make up and earrings on.  And won’t that be a beautiful day!!

When I called my doctor about my ear infection I prayed he wouldn’t ask me to come to the office.  It would have taken an enormous amount of effort to be presentable.  Lucky for me he prescribed an antibiotic via the phone and then we chatted a while about how weird life was in the Time of Corona.


Okay, we only went to the dump, but it was fabulous.  A gray day, a bit chilly, but what the heck!  It was wonderful to take a ride.

I don’t think Rhode Islanders are supposedly to be joy-riding and gallivanting around the state right now, but we had a good excuse to be rolling down the highway.

There he is:

IMG_4089My chauffeur is getting rid of Amazon boxes.

We were on the lookout for New York license plates.  Have you heard that New Yorkers are being met by state troopers at the Connecticut/Rhode Island border, ferries, airports and train stations.  We have a lot of NY’ers with summers homes here in southern Rhode  Island.  And many are understandably fleeing the hot spot that is NYC to take refuge down here along the coast.

Unfortunately they are bringing Covid 19 with them to upstate New York and Florida, other popular places for summer homes.

So they are being told to go right to their houses and self-quarantine for fourteen days.  Do not stop at the grocery store.  Do not stop at the liquor store.  Just go home, uncover the furniture and enjoy the ocean view.

Will that work?  I don’t know.  I heard that the seafood stores down at the docks had sold out of lobsters (which are cheap and plentiful due to the closing of restaurants) and the parking lots were filled with cars with NY license plates.

So it’s best to stay home.  And safe.

With or without lobster.

***aside from solitary trips to the ocean!

Posted in family, rhode island | 1 Comment

day 10 and the ocean beckons

We’ve taken several walks down by the ocean this past week.  I tried walking on the beach, but the sciatica in my leg protested.  I can walk, but I need a flat surface.

So we “walked the wall”, the long sidewalk along the sea wall in Narragansett.  This was taken last Tuesday, late afternoon.


A popular walk for locals, tourists and their dogs.


In the distance is Narragansett beach.

On Saturday I needed to drop off some medical papers for my mother in town, so afterwards I decided to swing by the ocean and possibly walk the wall for a little while on my own (Banjo Man decided to stay home at his desk).

Here’s what it looked like:


It was a gorgeous afternoon and lots and lots of people were taking advantage of the sunshine and fresh ocean air.  The traffic felt like July.

I eventually found a place to park, but decided to stay in the car and open the windows.  I played Ben’s cd and relaxed for long, lovely minutes to the sound of his voice.

Monday morning our governor and assorted health officials announced that they were not pleased.   Various parks and beaches around the state had attracted lots of people last weekend, possibly violating the “no congregating” directives.  But I only saw groups of two, with and without dogs.  And three teenaged boys with fishing poles.  Were people six feet apart?  Pretty much.  It’s not like anyone was having a party.

We all just wanted some fresh air.  Some ocean sounds.  A view of the bay instead of our televisions and computer monitors.  Some exercise in the sunshine.

There are lots of anti-virus restrictions Rhode Islanders are willingly putting up with:  long lines at the grocery store, rations of chicken and hamburger and toilet paper, closures of our favorite restaurants and postponement of medical treatments.

But if the Powers That Be close the beaches?  I can’t imagine!  We love our beaches, our walks in the sand, our searches for “special” rocks and the rare piece of sea glass.

We need the fresh air.  And don’t we all!!!


Nothing stops the surfers.

My goal is to breathe in some ocean air every single day.

What are you doing to stay healthy and grounded?









Posted in rhode island | 1 Comment

chasing the edge, an update

Ben’s cd made it to the “local artists” wall at Waterloo Records, Austin’s famous music store, two weeks ago.



There it is!!!  What a thrill for the whole family!

Now many of you have been calling to ask how to buy your own copy.  Ben’s website ( has links for the downloads.

He has plenty of cd’s to sell, but with music stores closed he can’t rely on local sales.  So……contact me (in the comments section) and I will email you with the details of how to contact Ben.

You can also email him:

For $10 plus shipping you can own your own cd–and help the economy!!!

Just let me know and I will make sure you get one.  It’s a calming cd in the midst of all this fear and uncertainty.

Stay safe, everyone.



Posted in austin, family, music, shopping | 4 Comments

isolation day 5 and a mini meltdown

I turned on the local radio station this morning to hear two pieces of unwelcome news.  First, the governor announced that self-isolation and the virus were going to last for months and not weeks.


I refuse to believe this.  I really do.  I am ready to get in my car and drive to Idaho and the lake RIGHT NOW.  Banjo Man has pointed out that motel rooms might not be safe.  Well, hell, isn’t that what our four tubes of Chlorox wipes are for???  Huh???

Yesterday I watched two episodes of “Extreme RV” during my afternoon rest.  Gas will be cheap this summer.  Why not travel in our own virus-proof motorized shell?

The second piece of news I didn’t need to hear before I’d even had my coffee was that our local grocery store chain, Stop & Shop, had opened at 6 am this morning to accommodate the shopping needs of the elderly (over 60), but the stores ended up being packed with shoppers.  Unfortunately there was still no chicken, no hamburger, no paper products, etc.

Just a note:  it’s very weird–shocking, even– to be considered “elderly”.   Nonetheless, Stop & Shop wanted to give its elderly customers an hour and a half every morning in which to shop without worrying about all those germ-carrying college kids back from spring break raiding the ice cream aisle and breathing.

So, according to our governor (one of the least liked governors in America, according to the polls, and I agree wholeheartedly), this pandemic and its consequences could last months.  And the grocery stores shelves were not stocked.  So when would they be?

(Son Ben in Texas had reported the same thing at his local Walmart.  He’d snagged the last two cans of mixed fruit yesterday; the meat and chicken counters were empty.)

Banjo Man joined me upstairs when I make my coffee.  He always checks on me because the one morning he didn’t (a few days after my surgery) I passed out on the living room couch.

The poor man will never forget it.

Anyway, this morning he listened to my ranting about future months of isolation, how and if we will be able to buy food a month from now, should we be rationing what we have stored in the freezer, should we get a gun and hope that a wild turkey strolls across the driveway (as they are wont to do) and if our society goes hungry for a few thousand years will we be making bat soup just like those crazy Chinese people who started this mess in the first place???!!!

I’ll admit it.  This self-isolation along with membership in the “high risk” population in a world of killer germs has me freaked.

Harley Chick and I talked about it yesterday.  She and Hot Rod Russ were working on using up everything they had in their freezer, as were we.  But she had friends who were buying freezers and loading them with chicken and burger and all sorts of things (when they could find it).   So were we doing the right thing by eating up all of our stored food?

Banjo Man suggested–in a quiet, calm way so as not to set me off again–that we inventory our food and see exactly what we have on hand.  After that he would visit some grocery stores (as long as they were fairly empty) and see what he could scrounge for food.

So we did exactly that.  And it turns out we have enough food to last for at least 6 weeks.  The freezers are stocked with everything we could possibly want.  A few gaps–mozzarella cheese, rice, white beans, bread and fig jam–can be dealt with if we get the chance.

So I am calm.  And now we, the high-risk elderly people, are not going anywhere again today.  In fact, I’m defrosting chicken breasts for a Cajun recipe tonight.  It will probably last for 3 days, but that’s okay.

I just ordered fig jam on Amazon.  It’s an essential ingredient for my beloved toasted cheese sandwiches.

By the way, my Olive Garden potato and sausage soup was MAGNIFICENT.  I used chourico sausage (browned first), chicken broth, diced potatoes, chopped onions, some chopped spinach and even some chopped broccoli.  Plus a cup of heavy cream (I grabbed the last carton at Cumberland Farm Monday) at the end.


This is also great in gumbo.

I might be elderly, but I can still cook.











Posted in family, food, rhode island, shopping | 1 Comment

day 3 of social isolating

Remember the mercury glass thermometers?

I miss them.

I had mine for forty-eight years.  It has disappeared.  Banjo Man thinks it broke last year, but I don’t remember that.  I babied it, knowing it was an environmental hazard that should be kept secret from the EPA.

I bought a fancy new thermometer similar to this one a couple of years ago and I detest the little b**tard.

American Diagnostic Corporation Adtemp Ultra Fast Read Flex Digital Thermometer

Why?  Because it requires an expensive round battery.  And when I haven’t used the thermometer in months (I mean, really, unless you have a child you’re not using thermometers very often) the battery goes dead.  I have bought three batteries for this thing in the two years I’ve owned it.

So I risked my life to go to our mini CVS yesterday in order to buy yet another battery for the thermometer so I would be prepared to monitor Banjo Man and myself in these Days of the Dreaded Virus.

My temperature: 97.5.  Just sayin’.

Rhode Island is pretty much shut down.  Grocery stores are open, though with shortened hours and a max of 100 people in the store at any given time.  You can buy take out food from the restaurants who offer it.  Drive-up fast food restaurants are still available.  The malls are closed.  As are the schools.  We’re being told to stay home for the next 2 weeks…and probably longer.

Report on grocery shelves:  How I wish I could see this for myself!  The paper products aisle is still decimated.  There is no chicken or hamburger.  And very little bread.

What’s in the Crock Pot:  A version of Olive Garden’s potato and sausage soup.  I was awake at 5 this morning thinking about making it.  This soup smells like heaven.  It’s my tribute to Italy.  I am worried for that beautiful country.

What’s on television:

We’ve been watching a mini-series on Netflix called THE SINNER.  I don’t recommend it unless you enjoy watching secondary characters engage in very weird, kinky sex.

Yes, you read that correctly.  We have one more episode to go and we are stalling.  I want to know how it ends but I wish I was better at fast-forwarding on one of those remotes with no buttons and just a little circle.

We enjoyed THE STRANGER, another mini series based on a Harlan Coben novel.

If you want something sweet (Banjo Man didn’t) check out the third season of “Anne With An E”.

We loved all three seasons of BROADCHURCH.

An oldie I’d recommend while in isolation:  ISLAND AT WAR, a WW2 mini-series.  Let’s talk real isolation:  on an island with Nazi’s.

SPENCER CONFIDENTIAL was mildly entertaining.  Felt more like a long tv show than a movie, though.

I am anxious to see MIDWAY, but Banjo Man needs convincing.  I don’t know why.

Stay safe, everyone.  These are strange times.






Posted in family, food, movies, rhode island, shopping, television | 4 Comments