land of the chatting strangers

Before I get out of my car, I now say to myself:  mind your manners.

Yes, I have to remind myself each time.  Because I am no longer in the polite-yet-cool New England, a place where idle chit chat is often frowned upon.  Making conversation with strangers is something that has to be eased into, a toe dipped gently into the water to see if it’s frigid or welcoming.

Not so Idaho, where every contact with another human being is a big rousing cannon ball off the dock.

I kid you not.

Last Friday, my first day here, I drove to town to get more groceries.  Yes, I know I told you about Costco, but there were a lot more groceries to buy.  In fact, at Walmart I just kept shopping until my cart was full and I was tired of pushing its weight from aisle to aisle.

The nice lady at the register asked me if I’d found everything I needed.

“Uh, no,” I said.  She gave me a strange look so I reluctantly explained, “I couldn’t fit any more in the cart, so I stopped.”

“I hope I can get it all back in the cart for you,” she said, eyeing what seemed like miles of food on the conveyor belt.  “Do you have someone at home who can help you unload it?”

“Well, no,” I admitted.  “I’ll be doing it myself.”

She thought that was too bad.  I agreed.  We then chatted about the weather and how busy Walmart was all of a sudden.  And soon it would be summer and wouldn’t that be something after such a winter.  And then she told me to have a nice day.

And then I headed to another grocery store to finish what I’d started.  But I was starving, so okay, I admit I went to McDonald’s first.  I don’t know when I was last in a McD’s, but it was a hot day and I thought I could eat a little burger inside where it was cool.  The parking lot was gridlocked and those people trying to park (like me) had to be patient.  When I finally parked and was on the sidewalk, a woman in the car next to mine rolled down her window and shared her frustration with me.

“You’d think they’d see my brake lights!  You think they’d let me get out!  I have to go back to work!!”

I commiserated with her.  Her escape was blocked by the line of cars at the drive up window.  I let her vent for another minute as cars continued to block her in.

As I waited for my burger (they deliver them to your table now, big surprise), the cleaning lady asked if she could sweep up the old french fry under my feet.  Of course, I said.

“People don’t have manners any more.  You should see what I see,” she huffed.  “Kids, grown ups, doesn’t make any difference.”  She went on to tell me about the horrible manners of her husband’s teenage grandchildren.  I commiserated and let her unload all of her frustrations.  She told me to have a nice day.

At the Dollar Store, the woman asked me what I was going to make with 21 assorted disposable pans.  I told her.  And then we talked about the weather.  It was going to get cold and rainy.  She told me to have a nice day, too.

And while in line at grocery store #2, the jolly man behind me said that I must be making one hell of a spaghetti sauce.  Or lasagna?

“Lasagnas,” I replied.  “A lot of them.”

“I can tell,” he said, triumphant.  “Do you know it’s supposed to start raining tomorrow?”

“I heard that,” I said.  “Have a nice day.”

“You, too!”

The bagger and the lady at the register wished me a nice day and I wished them a nice day and all was right with the world.

Because I was having a nice day.  A very nice day.  It would take fourteen trips back and forth to unload all the groceries, which wasn’t so nice, but shopping had been fun.  It had taken me a while to get back in the swing of things here in this foreign land, but I’ll get the hang of it in no time.  Over the years I’ve learned that total strangers will ask me what I’m doing this weekend or admire my earrings or ask for a recipe when they see my groceries on a conveyor belt.  The Rhode Island license plate was a big topic of conversation in many parking lots, but I have an Idaho one now.

In another few weeks I’ll be chatting like a native again.

Have a nice day.




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oh, yes, i’m at the lake!

Last Thursday was the Big Day At Last.  I was up at 3 AM and in the car with Banjo Man at 3:30 AM.

I had two very heavy suitcases, but there were two quilts in there so they took up a lot of room.  In my rolling “under the seat” bag I had every electronic device known to mankind, so it weighed about a thousand pounds and the stuff inside probably could have been reconfigured to send a man into space.  I would not be lifting this bag into the overhead compartment.

Banjo Man helped me check in at curbside, then I kissed him goodbye and headed inside the airport to catch a flight to Chicago and onward.


Looks like Patriotic Santa will be traveling with me today.

I always use “Early Bird” check in on Southwest, so despite their open seating policy I manage to snag a seat by the window (easier for sleeping and gawking at the scenery) in the front part of the plane.  The middle seat next to me remained empty until the last stragglers staggered down the aisle and a woman with a bulging totebag and a soft-sided duffle bag squeezed into the space.

She immediately began apologizing to the duffle bag.  “I”m sorry, Mama.  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.”

There was a dog inside the bag, which I noticed had small screens.  I could see a bit of dark hair and one brown eye.  A large Yorkie, maybe?

The tote bag had a broken handle and stuff kept falling out on my feet.  The woman kept moaning, weeping and talking to the dog.  Obviously this was not going to be a quiet flight.

I don’t mind dogs on flights.  I once sat at the bulkhead with a large yellow Lab spread out under my feet.  His owner was a young blind woman from Montana on her way to school.  It was a lovely flight and the dog slept the whole way.

But all this moaning and weeping?  Very odd.

I put my ear buds in, closed my eyes and listened to music for two and a half hours until we reached Chicago.

I had about 90 minutes to kill, so I found a place I’d eaten before and went inside to have breakfast.  Lovely.

Then it was time to board the 3 hour and 50 minute flight to Spokane.  My seatmates this time were not weeping, thank God.  They were a pleasant young couple on their way to a wedding in Sacramento.  She was pregnant and they had left their other three children home in Illinois with Grandma.  It was their first trip away from the children, so they were quite cheerful.

Unfortunately Southwest had overbooked the flight by one seat, so they made an announcement asking if anyone would voluntarily wait for the next flight.  And get this!  They offered $1200 in compensation.  Needless to say, a hand went up immediately and a woman in front was a happy camper.

And then we waited to take off, only to find out that there was a problem with the de-icer and we could not use the plane.  Considering it was June and a landing in Iceland was a bit remote, this seemed a little too cautious, but hey, I don’t run the world.  So I said goodbye to the kids and went back inside the airport.  There would be a two-hour delay until a new plane arrived.

Which meant a good long walk (for the Fitbit steps!!) and a cruise around the Food Court (Greek cookies!!) and a bit of window shopping.  I texted My French Friend Janou to hold off on heading to Spokane until I was actually on the next plane.  My 10:20 AM arrival had turned into a 12:37 arrival.

The two hours went by quickly, especially since I had started a new book by Katherine Center, HAPPINESS FOR BEGINNERS.  I couldn’t put it down.

Then it was back on the plane, this time in the 5th row and hoping that the young couple would be my seatmates again.  And they were!  The seats next to me were still open 10 minutes later when they came down the aisle.  We were all happy.

The next three and half hours were spent either sleeping or reading.  And then we were in Spokane, my bags arrived and My French Friend Janou pulled up in front of the terminal to pick me up.


It was hot and sunny, another plus.  Janou brought her huge truck with plenty of room for large quilt-filled suitcases and we headed to Costco, the land of large quantities of food.

I bought a lot of  meat.  And crackers.  And cheese.  We filled the coolers and headed to Coeur d’Alene and lunch at the fancy Resort there.


Always happy to see you, girlfriend!

And then, after a long chat-filled ride, we were back at the lake.  Once I unloaded the groceries and dumped the suitcases inside the door, it was time to enjoy the view from the living room windows.


The definition of happiness.

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all packed, almost

I have to keep this short because I have one more suitcase to finish packing.  I have packed two boxes to ship and two suitcases to take with me on the plane, plus the little rolling bag–filled with electronics– that goes under my seat.

I am definitely taking enough stuff.

One of the problems this year is that I am bringing four quilts with me for the lake house.  It was lovely to finish them and take them out of my closet, but they take up a lot of room in suitcases and boxes!

Another problem has been my lack of vim and vigor.  I am convinced that the fresh mountain air and some bright sunshine will cure what ails me.  I really do need to see the mountains and the bay because I have missed them so very much.

My French Friend Janou is picking me up at the airport tomorrow.  We will go out to lunch and to Costco.  The shopping will begin!  And the cooking will start as soon as I haul the crock pots up from the basement and plug them in.

Can. Not. Wait.

But first, on Friday morning I will carry a deck chair down to the beach and there I will sit and drink my coffee and wait for the sun.

Let the summer begin.


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hunger pains

Yesterday afternoon I wanted to be in Sheridan,  Wyoming.  I really, really wanted to be in  Sheridan, Wyoming.

At Perkins.  A restaurant.

A restaurant that serves a turkey dinner.  With potatoes and gravy and stuffing.

But I was here, in Rhode Island, deep in the woods and six miles away from town.  And Sheridan was a couple of thousand miles west.

There are no Perkins in New England.

I’ll back up…

I have been dieting since January 15.  It has been a slow process and has had some results, but nothing earthshaking.  But still, progress.

There have been some bumps in the weight-loss road, such as the never-ending bronchitis.  And being too tired to shop for, plan and cook high protein/low carb meals.  Lately I have just not had the energy.  Or the appetite.

Yesterday I had a very hungry day.  These are rare.  But when they happen?  I could kill a ground hog and roast him in a pit in the driveway.  I was tired of last weekend’s beef stew, tired of reheating the defrosted container of shrimp gumbo, tired of Banjo Man’s western chili.  We’ve been eating out of the freezer for several weeks and the picking was getting slimmer every day.

I whined to Banjo Man.  “I want a turkey dinner!”

His solution was to dig two chicken breasts out of the freezer.  He also found half a box of instant mashed potatoes (sometimes I use the flakes to thicken soups) in the upstairs pantry.  He went to the basement and proudly produced a third of a bag of probably rancid stuffing mix leftover from Thanksgiving.

I did not feel like cooking any of that and I told him so.

“Go to Subway and get a sandwich,” he said, a bit miffed.  “When you get home we’ll watch more of SHETLAND.”

That made sense, so off I went.  Starving.  Cranky.  Warm.  The only problem was once I got out of my country road and hit Route 1, there was construction.  The turnarounds were blocked off and there was no way of knowing how many miles I would travel in the wrong direction before getting a chance to turn around.  It was a single lane road and smelled of tar.  Everyone was going 10 miles an hour.

Route 1 is being repaved.  It didn’t need to be repaved, but what the hell.  

I took the next exit back to my house and decided to take Back Road #1 to town.  After a few miles I took a right on Back Road #2.  About halfway along that road, there were police cars and electric trucks blocking the road.  I was told to turn around, so I went back along #2 to #1.   More miles to Back  Road #3 and then to Back Road #4 and town.

Ah, town!  I bought a sandwich.

Now, how to get home?  It was after 5, so surely the construction on Route 1 was done for the day.  And the only slow traffic I’d seen was at my own exit, six miles from town, so I could endure a few minutes of that before arriving home, right?

Wrong.  Traffic was two lanes and at a dead stop just one mile out of town.  I was stuck.  And I remained stuck.

Getting home took a while.  My sandwich and I almost lost hope.  I put my head on the steering wheel and thought that I really need to go to the grocery store and Get A Plan.  And some easy-to-cook protein.

When I finally arrived back at the house, Banjo Man told me that because I’d been gone so long he figured I had been so hungry I’d stayed in Subway and eaten right then and there.

No, i huffed.  I’ve been stuck in traffic.

No one ever says “stuck in traffic” in our country town, unless you are on a road to a beach on a sunny Sunday morning.

So this morning I am heading north again, to return some pants at Kohl’s.  (Have I told you that that is my new hobby?  I buy pants for my 92-year old mother and she rejects 90% of them, so I trudge back to stores to return them and then she says she needs pants and I buy pants or I take her shopping to buy pants and then the whole thing starts over again because, well, because she is 92 and a size 4P , changes her mind a lot and is very, very fussy).

I am also meeting a friend for lunch at a place called T’s.  I’ll be taking Back Roads #1, # 5, #6 and #7.

And I am praying T’s has turkey.


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sewin’ in the chapel

You can’t tell from this picture, but this quilt shop is in a very large former church.

This spring’s Shop Hop with Harley Chick and Aunt Pat meant spending the morning at the Charlton Sewing Center, the most unusual quilt store I’ve ever visited (and that includes one in Sheridan, Wyoming in a former 19th century bank complete with a vault).


Aunt Pat and Harley Chick are ready to shop.

The first floor held sewing machines–either for sale, on display or to be repaired.

Then it was time to go upstairs to the fabric, notions and…organ.


The shop’s owner played a few tunes for us.  That was a first!!!

Scenes from the shop:


I will be honest with you.  I longed to start cleaning, organizing, and redistributing STUFF.  The fabric was gorgeous but overwhelmed by everything else.  I bought a few 1/4 yard pieces for an arty landscape quilt I am thinking about doing next year and some thread to finish quilting a gift.

I’d googled restaurants in this little Massachusetts town and the only one with decent reviews was this diner:


It was a “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” moment for the three of us in this cool little place.  We scarfed down yummy avocado BLT’s and iced tea before stopping into another quilt store on the way home.  We pet the fabric but didn’t buy anything.

Which is always a good thing for three women who have Too Much Fabric.

I’ve been trying to use it up, I really have.  

I’ll be packing my bags and boxes for the lake soon.  I always bring some sewing projects in case the smoke from forest fires keeps me off the dock and inside the house.  Or if I find myself alone.

Sewing on the screened porch on a breezy summer afternoon is one of life’s little pleasures.  I can watch the boats on the lake, listen to the eagles and ospreys taunt each other and sip iced tea while creating something on my little portable sewing machine.

I would like to thank the person who invented extension cords.




Posted in friends, quilting, rhode island, shopping | 1 Comment

you and planet earth

Just for fun, here’s an interactive site that tells you how many breaths  you’ve taken, how many snowflakes have fallen, how many people have been born since YOU were born.  Just enter your birthdate and see what happens!

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music, views, sundaes and a trip down memory lane

Mother’s Day 2018 was another cold, overcast day, but we were determined to pretend it wasn’t.

We–Banjo Man, daughter NancyK, my mother and I—took a drive over to the island of Jamestown.  Back in the days of pirates, Jamestown was thought to have been a pirate refuge and even where infamous pirates hid their treasure.  Now it’s a lovely, rural place with ocean and bay views galore.  Very New-Englandy.

Banjo Man drove us to Beavertail Point, home of the third oldest lighthouse in the country.



Check out the fog horns.  Yep, that’s what they look like.


I’ve always liked that sound.

After gawking at the beautiful homes and ocean  views, we headed back over the bridge to the mainland.  Banjo Man took a sudden right turn to show us the house he lived in when he was in the Seabees.  (We looked for a placque, but there wasn’t one.)


Banjo Man’s first Rhode Island home was very tiny.

And then to lunch at the Newport Creamery, a Rhode Island restaurant chain featuring sandwiches and all sorts of ice cream products.  I’ve been craving a hot fudge sundae for months and months and months…and Mother’s Day was the perfect excuse to indulge.





A good time was had by all.


Nancy relived her childhood with a “clown sundae”, a hit when the kids were small.  The clown sundae was always a good way to celebrate something.


Then it was home and time for a nap before going out again, this time to Hope Valley and the Wood River Inn.

Bluegrass on Sunday nights, people!!!!


I see a fiddle case!!!

Rod and Barbara joined us for a Mother’s Day seafood meal at the Inn and we listened to two bands.  A great time!  Can you tell?


Barb, Rod and Banjo Man having a good time.


More Pie and the guys.

I always laugh when I am around Barb.  We start talking about when we were thirteen and it is always funny.  I love having her back in my life fifty+ years later.

It was an extra special day.


From my daughter.  I am so thankful!



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ready for mother’s day


The Funny Grandson has once again pulled at my heart strings and made me laugh–at the same time.

Check out the sign he picked out for me.

And his mom told me he had to have one for himself, because well, it’s true:  Life is better at the lake.


Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!


Posted in family, grandmother stuff, lake | 1 Comment

catching up on a sunny may morning


The sky is blue and the temperature is–gasp–62.  Hard to believe, but true.

So…I’m recovering from this latest bout with bronchitis.  The doctor suggested it was the same infection I’ve had all winter that just keeps returning.  My mega-antibiotics are sure to kill it off once and for all, but I admit the process is a slow one.  I am doing nothing but watching tv and reading, as any attempt to walk around the house makes me dizzy.

Banjo Man is frowning and hovering.  My inactivity scares him.

He made tacos Monday night and we ate them as if we’d never had tacos before.  That lifted our spirits, as only hot sauce and sour cream can do.

We watched a truly dreadful movie Monday night, called THE DAUGHTER.   Skip it and save yourself a wasted 94 minutes.  I think the writer got himself so tangled up in the plot that he couldn’t figure out how to end the damn thing.  Whoever Simon Stone is, he ought to be ashamed of himself for writing this mess.

the daughter

I’m also watching Season 4 of SHETLAND, a series I love.  Unfortunately Amazon Britbox is releasing the six episodes one week at a time.  For those of us used to to binge-watching our favorite shows, this is a real pain in the you-know-what.

shetland 4

I love SHETLAND.  And this actor.

We also watched a sweet film called ALL SAINTS, based on a true story of a church trying to save itself from being sold and disbanded.

all saints

I’ve liked John Corbett since his days on Northern Exposure and I like stories based on true events.  I love the endings where they show the real people and tell what happened to them.

Here’s another one:

lion movie

The actor who played the young boy is the cutest little kid I’ve ever seen in my life.  It’s a long movie–I fell asleep 2/3 of the way into it and had to finish it another night–but once again the story is a true one and at the end of the movie the real people are shown.

This one was entertaining.   While the plot (son has to reconcile with dying father on a road trip) is a standard one, the acting and the characters were excellent.


We watched one episode of THE WHITE PRINCESS.  It held our attention but we haven’t had any burning desire to go back and watch another episode.  It takes place after the War of the Roses and the royal families (past and present) are dealing with the new murdering regime.  No one is happy, except maybe the mother-in-law from hell.

the white princess

I think she is going to give birth to Henry VIII.

Now we’re watching the Netflix mini-series COLLATERAL.   It’s set in present-day London and so far we’re getting an idea of the chaos of the refugee and immigrant situation there.  It begins with the murder of a pizza-delivery man and has about twenty characters to keep track of.  I’m not sure how long Banjo Man will stay interested.  I’ll stick it out to the end, though.


So that’s what’s happening here, as I rest on the couch and wonder how much longer it will take to bounce up and start cleaning a closet, storing winter clothes, unearthing the summer sandals and organizing my return to the lake for the summer.

I hope that happens soon!

Posted in family, movies, rhode island | 2 Comments

making the huskers great again


The view from our seats at the Spring Game.

See all that red?  88,800+ Husker fans were at the stadium to welcome the new coach back to town.  I think it broke an attendance record.

We were ready.


Glamour is my middle name.

It was cold.  It was spitting rain.  It was even a bit windy.  Did we care?

We did not.

We ate runzas for breakfast.


We put on our ponchos.


We watched the happy crowd enter the stadium.


Will is watching his father rearrange his poncho for the 183rd time.

I’d intended to buy a corn cob hat and make every member of the family wear it while I took pictures, but the price tag brought me to my senses.


The last time I was in Memorial Stadium watching football was in the early 1970’s, when Nebraska played Hawaii.  It was a fun afternoon with much good-natured cheering for the Hawaii team and a sea of red-clad fans looking content with life.

But I don’t think I’ve ever been in the midst of 88,000 people before this Spring Game.  So many families, elderly people, couples…all having fun and feeling optimistic about Nebraska football again.

We’ve had a rough 15+ years in Husker world.  And now things are looking up, thanks to the arrival of Scott Frost and his amazing coaching staff.

Saturday night’s pizza party with cousins (whose ages ranged from 12 to 90) was a great success, with much conversation and laughter.  Valentino’s pizza is always a hit as was the special cake.  Banjo Man’s sisters brought lots of great food to add to the party and we kept the red-and-white theme going.


Happy cousins.

We all met for breakfast at the Village Inn the next morning before one last visit until people began to head home.


Do they look like they’ve had a great weekend or what?!?

From start to finish, a lovely family reunion.

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