seen on south congress


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acoustic mcmurtry

IMG_0782Tuesday night at the Continental Club Gallery James McMurtry does a 90-minute acoustic set.

Just James and his two guitars (one is a 12 string that sounds like heaven).

Austin-based McMurtry has a reputation for being a bit, well, grumpy.  He’s reclusive, serious, silent.  But recently he has stunned his longtime fans with his easy banter on Tuesday nights.

We lined up outside  45 minutes early to snag a seat on one of the couches.  It’s a small venue, intimate and cozy, meant for listening to the music and not talking to your date.

I’m sorry these pictures are so big.  I can’t figure out how to edit them on the new Kindle.IMG_0784Here’s the stage before the show.

The songs were incredible.  As was the guitar-playing.   We were mesmerized.  And thrilled to be there.

Will was with us, but he prefers to stand in the back of the room instead of up front on the couch.  He hates being in front, but we love it.

It was a beautiful evening and a quiet walk home.  SXSW hadn’t quite geared up yet, so we had the sidewalks to ourselves.  It’s a different story now.  People are here and the city is alive with music!


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long way from home

IMG_0771While New England prepared for another storm yesterday, we ate an early dinner on the patio outside of Whole Foods.

Snow??  What snow???

It’s a hard life.

The day began with breakfast at Habanero’s, a local Mexican place with fabulous breakfast tacos. On to the Alamo Drafthouse to see Annialation, starring Natalie Portman.  We hoped it wouldn’t be too scary for Banjo Man but it turned out to be more ridiculous than thrilling.

On to Waterloo Records to load up on new cd’s.  And then across the street to Whole Foods.

There was a plan to walk down Congress to listen to jazz, but Banjo Man decided he had had enough fun for one day.  So we rented a movie, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE OF EBBING, MISSOURI and stayed home.

I loved it.  The more I think about it today the more I love that movie.  And the theme.  And the characters.

If you’ve seen it, do you agree with me?

Today I am making another giant pan of shepherd’s pie, as requested.  And then a vat of meatballs.  The next few days will require easy meals in the crock pot for whatever time the music stops and we are hungry and tired.  The lines at the local restaurants will be long.  We’ve learned it is easier to eat at home before setting out for Round 2.

My beloved, trusty Kindle Fire  HDX died Saturday, as did the crock pot.  Both were immediately replaced on Sunday.  Odd typos that might crop up in this blog are due to this old dog dealing with new tricks…and an inferior Kindle Fire.  Sigh.

Hopefully the crock pot will be a better purchase.

Sending love to those of you  dealing with the storm…..




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friday morning tournament

We’ve had blueberry pancakes at the Magnolia Cafe and now it’s time for a little friendly competition.  One competitor is almost 77 and the other is 7.  The matches are very close.


Root beer floats will be served later.  To replenish the brain cells….


Posted in austin, family, grandmother stuff, texas | 3 Comments

notes from austin

Yep, we made it to Texas.

It’s a sunny morning here.  Banjo Man has walked to his happy place, the HEB grocery store.  And I am here at the condo wearing shorts and drinking coffee.

Will is at work making magic with brisket.

The big news is that the Leaning Tree has been removed, our wires are intact and ready to survive the new storm coming later on today.

Neighbors Ginny and Ken texted me last night to announce the sight of National Grid trucks in our driveway.   Good news to get while waiting for the flight from Baltimore to Austin to take off!!!!

And Ken just called to say the driveway was clear and the tree was gone.

Happy dance!!!  I am so tired of worrying about that tree and waiting for the power to fail.

Our trip here was easy, despite having to speed walk from one end of the Baltimore airport to the other to arrive in time to board a near empty plane.  When do you ever hear a flight attendant say, “please spread out!”

Such luxury.

Will picked us up at the airport and off we went to have a late night dinner at the Magnolia Cafe, which is a tradition.

It’s good to be in our little Texas home.  Tomorrow we’ll see Son #1, Amber and the Funny Grandson.  He’s going to spend the night here, skip school and hang out with Party Grandma.

I predict blueberry pancakes and root beer floats.


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saturday night post storm


Johnny, one of Texas faves, performed at the Knickerbocker Music Center (formerly the Knickerbocker Cafe) in Westerly last night.

Banjo Man and I were there, along with our party-loving friends Ruth and Kenny.  We hiked out of the woods and met them in the road, on the other side of the Leaning Tree (which, by the way, is still leaning).

It was so good to get out of the house.

Live music + food + friends = a great evening.

Johnny had a new look.  At first I didn’t recognize him without his black clothes and matching bluesman hat.  Last night he sported blue jeans and a blue shirt with a distinctly country-western flair.  And no hat!

It was such a great show.  Johnny grew up in this area, so friends from high school–popular RI musicians — joined him on stage.  The place was rockin’!

We are still waiting for National Grid to show up, but we are preparing to head to Texas without this being fixed.  The power pole is now bending from the weight of the tree and we have visions of everything–tree, wires and pole–crashing down in a tangle of sparks and flames in the driveway.  The whole state is a mess–we’re certainly not alone– but hopefully we’ll get some help before Tuesday afternoon’s trip to the airport.  We keep calling the electric company hoping we’ll get a crew to appear.

Daughter Nancy hiked in this afternoon to take me to CVS and the bank.  Jeff hiked in to check on Banjo Man, making sure he wasn’t cutting down trees on his own (he wasn’t).

We are grateful to still have electricity.  That raunchy and irresistible mini series, VERSAILLES, just began its second season on Netflix.  We’ve watched 5 episodes already.  And Monday night THE BACHELOR ends the season with a 3-hour finale.

We’re doing laundry and packing our suitcases while we still have power.

Texas–and warm weather–here we come!




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staying home

IMG_0740 (Edited)

Another tree came down across the driveway.

There’s a lot of chain saw work to do, but unfortunately we don’t dare work under power lines that could snap at any time.

It’s amazing to think that this tree has been leaning against the lines since Friday morning.


Look closely and you’ll see the horizontal line on the left and then the angled line coming from the top right corner. 

Hopefully power will be restored and downed power lines will be fixed by Monday afternoon throughout the state.  It’s still windy, which doesn’t help.

We feel so lucky to still have power.  That hot mug of coffee this morning tasted pretty darn good!


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hanging in there

Sam and I are not having a good day.  The five-year old and I had plans to make ice cream, eat mini-cupcakes, curl up on the couch and watch Thomas the Train episodes on Netflix this afternoon.

Instead a major storm hit in the middle of the night.  We’d lost power at 7:30 this morning (thank goodness I’d had a cup of coffee first), which returned after 9:00, much to our joy.

I texted Sam’s mom:  you might not want to drive over in this.

And then Banjo Man said, “Have you seen the tree?”

He pointed out the living room window.


He hurried outside to get a better look and sure enough, the tree had fallen and was resting on the power lines next to the transformer.

As my grandson would say, “I can’t like this.”

With wind gusts at 60 mph, we don’t expect this tree to stay up.  And when it goes, the power lines go with it.

The electric company won’t be sending anyone out until the winds die down, due to this being a “bucket truck” repair.

We’re stuck at home until this tree has been removed.  And that’s okay, because it could be worse.  The bridges are all closed, meaning a lot of people are (a) stuck in traffic or (b) unable to get home tonight.  The airport has cancelled all the flights.  The trains along the northeast corridor have been stopped, due to trees along the tracks.  The local radio station is operating on a generator, as is one of the hospitals.

There are lots of trees down.  And on top of peoples’ houses and cars.

And the meteorologist on the radio just said, “The worst is yet to come.”

(As I was typing this a huge gust of wind came up, the tree bounced a few times on the wire and then a huge branch broke off and is now blocking the driveway.)

I’d better hit SEND!






Posted in rhode island | 2 Comments



Oh, how I love dumplings!

Banjo Man and I treated ourselves to our annual Chinese lunch on Tuesday.

We were in the town 20 minutes south of us and we were hungry for dumplings and all things Chinese.  Perfect timing.


We ended up taking about 3/4 of this meal home with us.  And we skipped the rice.

Then it was time to open our fortune cookies.  Banjo Man’s was along the line of, “Tomorrow will be a significant day.”

And mine?


I’m still pondering this one.

cows smelling roses



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one ring-y ding-y

Remember that Lily Tomlin routine?  The one where she was the telephone operator?  It always made me laugh harder than anyone else in front of the tv.

Well, in the midst of my cleaning I found this old photograph from 1970.


More Pie at work.

And yes, I am old.  Old enough to have worked those old telephone boards with the plugs and switches.  If I answered a call from a pay phone, I had to look up the cost of the call to wherever it was going, tell the customer how much money to put into the phone and then listen for the pings of quarters, dimes and nickels before punching the number keys and connecting the call.

No one liked answering the pay phone lights.  It could take a long time to convince a drunk college student to put the right coins in the right slot.

Those were also the days of “person-to-person”and “collect” calls, which were transacted by a telephone operator.

I could accidentally disconnect a call by pulling out the wrong plug.  There were days when those boards were filled with plugs and flashing lights.  And yes, if we wanted to listen in on a phone call it was easy to do, though something that could get us fired.  We were too busy to bother anyway.

The most exciting call I ever took was from the FBI, calling to headquarters to announce they’d arrested Viet Nam war protester and priest, Daniel Berrigan, on Block Island.  They’d posed as bird watchers in order to find him.  Although I didn’t hear the content of the call, it was easy to put the pieces together the next day when the news broke.

We connected 911 calls, too.   And transferred “information” calls to the gals in the corner who sat at a table with huge telephone books mounted in front of them.

It’s amazing to think how much things have changed in 48 years.  My I-phone is a little miracle of technology.  Irritating at times, but light years away from “Hello. Operator.  May I help you?”

Posted in family, just for fun, rhode island | 2 Comments