it’s not christmas without a banjo

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I think his head was cold.

We went out last night to one of our favorite restaurants, the Wood River Inn, for some music and dinner.

You’ve have to love the banjo player.  He was great.  In fact, the whole band was great.  As was the food.

We needed some holiday cheer.   And some live music!  There will be plenty of music in Austin next week, but we just couldn’t wait for Texas.


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a little italian lunch


I thought I’d take advantage of the lull between construction and deconstruction here and show you pictures of our lunch on Federal Hill, in Providence.

My daughter-in-law wanted to eat in a “real” Italian restaurant, so we found one with a Mafia history and a Frank Sinatra soundtrack.


My happy Texans.

My son is known for his large appetite.  He ordered chicken parm.


He was very happy.


And he finished every bite.


And because it was his birthday celebration, he had dessert.

We picked out all sorts of special pastries at the Italian bakery and then trudged through the rain to Venda Ravioli, the best and biggest deli in Rhode Island.  We bought ravioli at Venda’s to cook for dinner–I had meatballs and sauce waiting in the crock pot–but no one was hungry!  Imagine that!


Post-martini shopping.

Last stop?  Gasbarro’s liquor store to buy the wine for Thanksgiving.  One of the owners offered us doughnuts from a huge Dunkin Donuts box on the counter.  The Funny Grandson took him up on it, of course.  The kid is a doughnut freak, but more about that in another post.

FG slept all the way home, to the shock and awe of his parents.  It did eventually stop raining, which made the drive home easier.

Banjo Man had stayed home to monitor a particularly dreadful day in the stock market, but we brought him cookies and pasta and sauce and bread so he didn’t feel too left out.


Posted in family, food, rhode island | 1 Comment

giggles are good

As I sit here today the electrician still hasn’t appeared.  He called–wow!!!–and said, “Maybe Monday”.

I won’t hold my breath.

The Disaster Recovery company is coming on Monday to rip out my kitchen floor, take out my sink and cabinet and dishwasher and stove.  They are going to install large fans to dry out the flooring underneath and treat everything for mold.

Some time in January someone will come and repair everything and put in a new floor.

In the meantime I continue to wash dishes in the bathroom sink.

Speaking of the bathroom, the water bulge on the ceiling over the shower has become more and more mysterious.  Our roofer is here now trying to figure out what is going on.  We have soaked insulation and a moldy ceiling, so all of that will have to be removed and replaced.  But probably not until we find someone to do the job–in January.

I love the roofer.

So here are some funny tiles I spotted while shopping with Mom Wednesday.  I took her to lunch about 40 minutes away, to Denny’s Diner.  She absolutely loved it.  Quiet and warm, with such nice wait staff, it was the perfect place for her for lunch.  Their handicapped access was wonderful, too.

We had turkey dinners.  Love that comfort food!

For a smile…




And a personal favorite…


Banjo Man needs another flashlight.  Wish us luck!


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the not-good-news bubble


The bathroom ceiling above the shower.

This is what greeted us this morning.

We were not happy.

Obviously there is a leak in the roof and we have to find it.  Fortunately for us, a man from Single Source Disaster Recovery is coming tomorrow morning to look at my kitchen floor.  If there is anyone who can tell us what to do about this ceiling, it’s him.

It hasn’t rained in days, by the way.  This is so bizarre.

We are leaving for Texas in one week.  Do you think this will be fixed by then????

Please send good thoughts.  Or tequila.



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a really busy afternoon and i need more coffee

Today was a nine-errand trip to town.  When I’m at the lake, a nine-errand trip to town would be considered normal.  Here?  Not so much.

The most important errand of all was picking up the Christmas cards at CVS.  I didn’t send cards last year.  I figure if I manage it every other year I’m doing just fine.

I haven’t told you about the Funny Grandson having a medical issue on Thanksgiving night and having to fly home with his parents early the next morning.  He ended up in the hospital, had very successful surgery and his parents, grandparents, uncle and aunt eventually recovered from the stress and worry.


He’s fine now.  He’s back in school, back taking drum lessons and madly hinting about what he’d like for Christmas.

But back to my day of errands….

The Saturday afternoon after Thanksgiving (as we waited for the latest round of test results from the hospital), right before sunset, Banjo Man, Will and I decided to take a short walk on a rocky beach to get some air.


I gave Will my phone and asked him to take a picture of his parents for a Christmas card.  I’d intended to get a full-family pic on Thanksgiving Day, but to my disappointment not one of us remembered to do it.

I’d forgotten to put on make up.  Or lipstick.  Neither one of us had slept well, hence the dark circles.  But Will took some pictures and we found some interesting rocks and breathed in some ocean air.

This is not our Christmas card.  Really, who wants to look at two old folks wishing them a Merry Christmas?  Why did I ever think that would be a good idea?


We needed more sleep.

So I am sending out cards with various happy events depicted in tiny photos.  It was a good year.  They all are.

I love getting Christmas cards, especially with pictures.

The errands today took quite a while.  Long lines, two car accidents (not mine), one almost-car accident (almost mine but not my fault), sunny skies, cold winds, a young man in the hardware store with rage issues and a highly anticipated Subway sandwich made up my hours away from the house.

I arrived home to learn that Banjo Man had taken on our homeowners’ insurance company and demanded action in a very loud, no-nonsense voice.  We’d been very patient, but we’re growing tired of people not showing up or calling us when they say they will.  Turns out our claim “disappeared” into a computer system last Wednesday and was eaten by rabid cyber wolves.

Or something.

So this Thursday morning a part of my kitchen floor will be ripped up and inspected for mold and standing water and leaks into the basement.

Thursday morning is also when the electrician has promised (promised!!!!!) to arrive to fix everything that is wrong.

It should be quite a day. 

My errands are done, so I will just sit by the window and wait for someone to come down the driveway.


Our driveway with new gravel.  Gravel is always good.











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vanilla bean joy


See these bottles?  They are filled with vanilla bean-scented liquid hand soap.

At the risk of having you think I have become one of those crazy hoarders you see on television, I will confess that I now own nine of these.

I went to five stores to hunt them down after sniffing the one and only bottle at TJMaxx and discovering–with great joy–that it smelled almost exactly like my favorite vanilla-scented soap from Paris that isn’t made any more.

Well, it’s still made but it’s not the same formula and is very disappointing.

Many years ago I was invited to join a writer friend who was spending six months in Paris.  Of course I had to do a lot of research before I stepped on the plane.  One of the tips?  Wear black.  Another?  For bargain gifts to take home to the USA, buy giant bars of Le Petit Marseillais soap (for about a dollar each).

And so I did.  My suitcases were loaded with many bars of Le Petit Marseillais soap and two tins of chocolate from Belgium.  What could be better?

I replenished my vanilla soap stash a few years later, when I met My French Friend Janou in Paris for a week of shopping (Paris Flea Market) and sightseeing (Mont St. Michel).

(I’ve just spent an hour searching for those photos and can’t find them!  Darn!)

Once again, the suitcases were filled with bars of soap when I left France.

I managed to order it online for a couple of years, but then they stopped making it.  It recently resurfaced, but it doesn’t smell the same.

But this is close.


If you like the scent of vanilla and you’re as fussy as I am, try to find a bottle and sniff for  yourself!




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another birthday


Notice the bonnet tossed in the air!

I think I’m in a stroller, 1950’s style.  And happy to be there, from the looks of things.

This was taken in Washington, DC, where my Dad was stationed at the time.  My mother loves to say she changed my diapers on the White House lawn.

My claim to fame.

It’s going to be a lovely day.  We’re going to saw a board, move a table, rehang a quilt and attend a cocktail party at Mom’s elegant residence.

One happy birthday word:  tequila.



Posted in family, just for fun, rhode island | 3 Comments

I haven’t been able to think of what to blog about lately.  I sit here at my tiny, slightly wobbly folding table and try to juggle the keyboard, mouse and coffee mug while my monitor is on the old sideboard and seems very far away.

I do not have a pair of glasses that helps me see the print, so I’m glad this is only temporary.

Here’s what yesterday afternoon looked like.


I’m determined to get this room–sideboard gone, bins filled and labeled, and new table in place–so that when we return from our little Christmas trip to Texas I can walk right in and pick up the fiddle.

The clutter and messes and issues all over the house are starting to get to me. 

We started our downstairs project two months ago.  The electrician and the carpenter still haven’t arrived to do any of the work.  The guy from the propane company came, after we waited a month for an appointment, and installed a gas line for the future gas range in my upstairs kitchen, but in the process discovered an electrical issue that had to be fixed immediately.

Immediately?  Ha!  I told some friends that I had as much chance of seeing “our” electrician as I would having Jesus Himself walk up my front steps to hand me a winning Powerball ticket.

(Yes, I know I sound cranky.)

On the opposite, more joyful, end is that the local flooring store has been more than happy to order and install anything.  Within a week.  Can you imagine?  I want a bumper sticker that says, “I Love Bart’s”.

On Wednesday I called the insurance company, who promised that an adjuster would call me within 24-48 hours and come look at my warped floor.  On this same Wednesday,  Banjo Man went off to a Sand & Gravel company and ordered a mountain of gravel for our driveway.  It was delivered Thursday morning.  And Thursday afternoon the landscaping boys down the street came with their equipment and spread the gravel.  And even compacted the gravel.  All was right with Banjo Man’s world.

In the meantime I am still waiting for the insurance adjuster to call.

What is wrong with this picture?

Banjo Man says I’ll feel better when the electricity is all fixed.  But I’ve given up on getting the gas range.  For over ten years I’ve wanted a simple, no frills, gas range with a center griddle.  I want to be able to cook dinner and make coffee when the power goes out during nor’easters.

But Winter Is Coming (yes, I am a Game of Thrones fan) and so is snow.  And getting a stove delivered (steps! ice! long driveway!) could be next to impossible.  Banjo Man suggested I buy the stove now and keep it in the dining area.  We would move the table to make room and sometime this winter we could get it hooked up–after the electrician and after the gas guy do their jobs.

And after the kitchen floor is fixed.

Uh-huh.  I don’t share his optimism.   At this rate I figure I’m looking at April, folks, before everything is completed.  Call me crazy, but I do not want a gas range next to my dining room table until April.  Would you?

It’s back on my Wish List…for the fall of 2019.

So maybe I should apologize for this cranky blog post.  I certainly need more coffee.

Tomorrow is my birthday and we will celebrate it at my mother’s assisted living facility’s annual Christmas party.  And I will feel very, very young!  I will walk without assistance from any devices!  I will open the doors by myself and use the stairs instead of the elevator!  I will drive myself there and stride across the parking lot!

All things to be grateful for.

And by tomorrow I will have a clean office and a smile on my face.


gas range

The dream continues.










Posted in family, personal female whining, rhode island | 3 Comments

what’s missing?


It was part of my world for 37 years and I wrote almost 50 novels and novellas on it.  But the big, white desk is gone and that’s a good thing.  I spend too much time sitting there, just because that’s what I’ve always done.  It’s where I go every morning, to listen to the radio, drink coffee, eat my protein bar and check email and the news.  I get stuck there.  Time–too much time–goes by.

I’ve been wrestling with the lack of space in my office for several years now.  Computer, quilting and music?  Not room for all three, unfortunately, no matter how much I stuff I organized, decluttered or eliminated.

It was always still gridlocked.  And because I am basically a clumsy person with very little depth perception and arthritic fingers, I lived in fear of dropping my violin or banging it against a table.  I didn’t want to drop my lap steel (that thing is heavy!) on my foot or knock over my guitar.

Sunday afternoon Banjo Man installed my new blinds (I love  In order to do that he had to move my white desk out of the way.  When it was time to put it back, I said no.  Leave it in the middle of the room so I can think.

I sat there and thought about how I didn’t need a huge desk any longer.  I didn’t need to spend so much time at the computer.  Looking at the empty area in front of the windows made me feel lighter.

“Lighter” is always a good thing.

The next morning I told my husband that I no longer needed that desk.  I still needed a desk, yes, but something smaller and more narrow that would fit under my bookshelves and hold my laptop.  In order to make room for this future narrow table I would get rid of my old mahogany sideboard, too.

And because no one ever wants an old mahogany sideboard, no matter how elegant, Banjo Man will dismantle it and take it to the dump.  It’s too heavy to haul to a consignment store, even if we had a truck to put it in.

Yes, that is sad.  But not as sad as not having room to play my guitar or practice my violin.

So now I will empty the sideboard and I will be ruthless in throwing away things I have shoved in cupboards and drawers.  My goal is to begin 2019 with plenty of room for all of my musical stuff, from instruments to music stands to speakers and lesson books.

I’ve made the choice between having “stuff” and having “space”.

This is going to be fun!



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the thanksgiving flood


Friday morning surprise.

At 3:30 AM, the day after Thanksgiving, we took our Texas family to the airport.  It wasn’t part of the vacation plan, but the Funny Grandson’s mysterious stomach issues had occurred again and it was important that he get home to see his doctor asap.

Exhausted and worried, Banjo Man and I were back in bed before 5.  When I woke at 9:30 and staggered out to the kitchen to join Banjo Man and Will for coffee, it was to discover water had flooded underneath the Pergo laminate flooring more than two feet from the sink.   Banjo Man was collecting bath towels.

We thought our plumbing was fixed, but it wasn’t.  There is a little flaw…which means that when there is too much water going down the drain at once, the pipes can’t handle it and it overflows.  I keep a dishpan under that pipe connection just in case, but it has stayed dry since last winter.

And I forgot all about it.

And we had done a lot of dishes on Thursday, both by hand and by dishwasher.  A lot of water went down–or didn’t go down–that drain.  The dish pan was overflowing.

It looked bad, but I have to tell you that it didn’t seem like that big a deal at the time.  I was experiencing Major Grandmother Stress as I worried about FG’s health.  A minor kitchen flood was barely a blip on my radar.

I reminded Banjo Man that years ago we’d had a leak in the air conditioner in my office, resulting in a warped area of Pergo about 12″ x 18″.  It took a year or so, but the boards flattened by themselves and now you would never know.

We’ve been clinging to that hope, but it doesn’t look good.  The boards are warping in a 3 by 8 foot area.  We’ve piled all sorts of weights on them.

We used a portable heater to dry the area.


This was my idea.

Now we are using anything we can think of to apply weight to the warping boards in the hope that they will settle back into place.


This was Banjo Man’s idea.  It’s the very, very heavy top of my old white desk.

It gives me an excuse to stay out of the kitchen, so it’s not all bad.

But I think it’s time to call our homeowner’s insurance to see if they cover things like this.

Suggestions, anyone?



Posted in family, rhode island | 3 Comments