the picture keeper

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I  just finished reading a book called THE STORY KEEPER, by Lisa Wingate.  It’s a sweet story.  Relaxing.  With the gentleness that Wingate always brings to her stories.

I call myself The Picture Keeper, because I have ’em.  A lot of them!

Tuesday night my brother called to ask if I could round up some pictures of him and our family when he was a child and send them by Express overnight mail to his agent.  Why, you ask?  Because CBS Sunday Morning is working on a segment about him!!  How exciting is that!

I will let you know when it is going to be on tv.

Sure, I said.  I’ve been organizing photos for years.  I sort, I scan, I store in containers.  I have several generations of relatives’ pictures, thanks to my grandmother’s carefully labeled photo albums.  In fact, two years ago I’d separated a giant bin of my mother’s photos and assembled a box just for my brother’s childhood photos.

Not that there were a lot of those, because my parents didn’t have a camera and weren’t really interested in taking pictures.  Uncle Mac (our great uncle) had a Brownie camera he was very proud of, so I suspect a lot of our pictures came from him.  And from whoever took pictures and gave them to us.

So this morning, with my first mug of coffee, I searched through my computer to find photos that I’d already scanned.   This would be so easy!  I would just email them and not worry about going to the Post Office or Staples.

Or so I thought.  Because January 9th, Microsoft had updated my computer to Version 1709.  I’d lost my Start menu and my Edge browser.  I’d spent a long day trying to counteract it and failed.

I hadn’t realized that I could no longer open my photos.  The message “This app can’t open” appeared every single frustrating, infuriating time.  Unless it was a recent photo taken by my I-phone, I was out of luck.

I searched for and finally found a dvd of photos I’d made for my mother’s 90th birthday.  My computer wouldn’t open that either.

Or my videos.

Okay, I would hook up my scanner and start over.

Nope.  It wouldn’t deal with my beloved scanner, either.

Plan C:  I would go to my mother’s house and look for the container of photos that belonged to my brother.

Which I did.  I selected about fifteen of them, labelled the backs and headed to the Post Office.  I hated mailing the originals, but hopefully CBS will be careful with them and will return them.

Mission accomplished.  It should have been a simple thing, this rounding up of pictures, but technology failed me.  And a box of photos saved the day.  And the tv show!

So I will be calling a computer repairman this afternoon and I hope he will say, “I know exactly what you’re talking about it!  Bring your computer in and I’ll have it done in a jiffy!”

But in case that little fantasy doesn’t come true, I’ll be off-line for a while as my two-year old computer is restored to its former glory.

Wish me luck.  And stay away from Version 1709.

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I took a picture of the picture with my phone.  Not bad!

 

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more cleaning, more stitching

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The Not-Quite-Death Cleaning Continues

Another day, another closet…

No, not really.  Two is my limit this month.  But I went through a lot of stuff.  Really, why did I keep the sugar packet from a date with Banjo Man to Cape Cod?  And why did I keep the shower cap from our fancy honeymoon hotel in Montreal?

I cannot answer those questions.  Trust me when I say that such things are no longer in a box in the closet.

Such ruthless cleaning solved my boot storage problem.

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The “I Will Finish These Quilt Projects This Winter If It Kills Me” continues.

This is a Spiderweb quilt, made from scraps.  It’s pretty heavy, especially after being basted and ready for stitching.  I bought some heavy duty needles and I’m hoping I can stitch through all the layers.  I think it will become a huge wall hanging, because it might be too heavy to sleep under.

I dug out a special white, gold and black top, all basted and ready to stitch.  Banjo Man immediately claimed it for his own.  The stitching is taking quite a bit of time, but I like the way it’s turning out.  I think it will take another couple of weeks to finish, even if I work on it every day.

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In the same storage box was this old purple “Chinese Boxes” quilt, about 2/3 finished.  It was one of my first attempts at free motion quilting, so it’s a bit primitive.  Little by little it’s getting done.

This wild quilt is having its binding hand stitched on while we watch the Olympics.  I’m going to call it “Go for the Gold”!!!!  LOL!!!

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At least if I prick my finger with my needle, the blood won’t show!

Oh, my goodness.  This was a mystery quilt and I followed the directions according to color and design, but…these colors?  Never again!

But I am emptying boxes of all shapes and sizes, fighting off the winter depression that threatens to overwhelm me every year, and getting stuff DONE.

It’s one way to get through February, besides tequila.

 

Posted in family, quilting, rhode island | 1 Comment

where the heck is gungywamp?

gungywamp circle

Gungywamp Circle.

Monday’s plan was to accomplish some important banking issues on behalf of my mother, who is no longer up to dealing with complicated tasks like important banking issues.

Because I don’t have the credentials to access the Newport Naval Base and its credit union, I drove to Groton, Connecticut to the off-base credit union there.  A google search led to me to the address:  Gungywamp Road.

Hurray!  Mini road trip!  Banjo Man was too busy with work to go with me and my daughter was sick with a cold, so off I went by myself.   With coffee.  And the GPS.

Groton is known for its submarine-building.  And also for a restaurant called Paul’s Pasta.  But what on earth is a Gungywamp?

It had been raining.  Since I was alone, I had planned to visit a nearby quilt shop, one I hadn’t known about until another google search found it for me.  But when I left the credit union the rain had turned to sleet and I turned into a woman who wanted to head home.  There were two more bank visits in my future that day and no time to waste while the weather was so awful.

It turns out that Gungywamp is the name of an archaelogical site in Groton.  According to wikipedia:

The 100-acre (40 ha) site consists of multiple elements covering a broad range of time. There are remains of houses and potential cloth and iron processing sites. There are multiple stone chambers currently believed to be root cellars, two of which are completely intact. Says Connecticut State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni, “The thing that’s unique at Gungywamp is that there are so many of them.”[2]

One of these “root cellars”, also known as the “calendar chamber”, has an astronomical feature where an inner alcove is illuminated during the equinoxes by the alignment of a hole in the west wall, through which the sun shines upon a lighter stone on the opposite side, radiating illumination within the smaller, beehive shaped chamber.[1]

Somewhat removed from the structures, there is a stone circle, actually consisting of two circles of stones, one within the other, over ten feet in diameter. The outermost ring is made up of twelve stones worked to be curved. Archaeologists who have studied it consider it to have been a mill.[2][3] The archaeologist Ken Feder notes that unlike European stone circles the stones are recumbent and not upright and identifies it as a bark mill used to extract tannin for leather making. Walking in a circle animals would pull the mill wheel between the double circle of stones.”[4] Other researchers have hypothesized it is a Native American built structure.[5]

Even farther away there is a row of low standing stones, lined up in a north-south facing, one of which features an etched image of a bird with outstretched wings.”

There’s an interesting “virtual tour” over at:

http://www.dpnc.org/gungywamp

If you have a little time on your hands, a fresh cup of coffee and a bit of curiosity about the coastal woods of New England, it’s worth a stop.  I had no idea it was there!

 

 

Posted in rhode island, travel | 2 Comments

big little lies and other shows

big little lies

It was a good book and it’s a really good miniseries on HBO (or if you’re lucky, available to rent at your local library).

Banjo Man and I could not have enjoyed it more.  I especially loved the various husbands (except one, who was a nasty piece of work) and their dialogue.   Whoever wrote their dialogue understood men.

Reese Witherspoon’s character was a riot–we all need a loyal, outspoken, feisty friend, don’t we?  And Nicole Kidman’s character will break your heart.

Banjo Man wants you to know “it’s not for the faint of heart” (he just entered my office to discuss grocery shopping), especially the language.   We liked it so much we watched the last four episodes (out of 7) all in one evening.  We just couldn’t stop!

One of the tips you hear as an aspiring writer is to give each character a secret.  It’s a simple technique, from the little things to the big–the heroine has a secret crush on her sister’s boyfriend, the so-called hero is really a murderer, the kind neighbor is hiding her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Superman is allergic to Kryptonite.   Moriarty is good at this and has taken it to a new level in her recent books.

Have you read Liane Moriarty’s book THE HUSBAND’S SECRET?  Or what about WHAT ALICE FORGOT (a personal favorite)?  Check them out next time you’re on Amazon or at the library or bookstore.   Let me know what you think if you’ve read these!

Here’s one to skip:

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10 part miniseries on Amazon Prime

This was dreadful.  We made it through an hour.  It’s about an FBI investigator who was taken by a serial killer and disappeared for 6 years before returning.  Maybe the rest of the episodes improved the plot but we didn’t stick around to find out.

Instead we watched this on Amazon:

words and pictures

From IMDB:  A flamboyant English teacher (Clive Owen) and a new, stoic art teacher (Juliette Binoche) collide at an upscale prep school. A high-spirited courtship begins and she finds herself enjoying the battle. Another battle they begin has the students trying to prove which is more powerful, the word or the picture. But the true war is against their own demons, as two troubled souls struggle for connection.

It was entertaining enough, with a hero so flawed he made us wince time and time again.  But it was a decent movie and I’d give it a B-.  After all, we didn’t drive to town, pay $11 a ticket and sit in a frigid movie theater to see it.

If you’ve discovered a good mini series or movie, let me know!  We’ll be watching the Olympics off and on, but are always looking for something to entertain us on these cold winter nights!

 

 

Posted in family, movies, rhode island, television | 2 Comments

the golden tickets

spring game

Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska.

This morning at 11:00 ET the tickets for the Nebraska Spring Game go on sale for the common folk, i.e. the football fans who don’t own season tickets.

Ever since Scott Frost was announced as the new head coach, my guys have been over-the-moon excited.  After 20 years of increasingly spiraling failure, the beloved Huskers were on their way back to glory.

After all, Scott Frost is arguably the best coach in college football.  He’s racked up a bunch of awards that say so.

Scott Frost was the quarterback who led the Huskers to a shared National Championship in the glory days.  So he is returning to Nebraska and all is right with the world.  Nebraska is in Full Celebration Mode and the Spring Game–basically a scrimmage with lots of fun fan events– is going to be the party of the decade.

So, because I love a party, I organized plane tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars for Banjo Man and our two sons.  Uncle George was “in”.  Banjo Man kept insisting that I go, too, so I did a little finagling (conflict with a huge quilt show in New Hampshire) and got a ticket for myself on Friday morning, the day before the “game”.

Then Nebraska changed the date of the game by a week.

I redid all the tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars.  I contacted the rest of Banjo Man’s family to see who wanted to go to the game.  We would celebrate with an informal family gathering on  Saturday night.

We would party.

Maybe.

Because yesterday, as of 5 PM, the season ticket holders purchased close to 60,000 tickets for the game.  The limit was 20, so I’m sure a lot of people took advantage of that.  Including many who intend to resell the tickets and make a few bucks.  After all, tickets are only $10 each.

I don’t know what happened to sales overnight.  Truthfully?  I’m afraid to go to the website, afraid I’ll see the dreaded words “sold out”.   The stadium holds 90,000 but there was a question of whether all parts of it would be open.  Plus the season ticket holders had all night long to keep shopping.

I didn’t sleep much last night, because I was worrying about it so much.  So this morning I am not going to the dump with all the stuff I cleaned out of my closets.  I am not going to Walmart for groceries.  I am not taking a carload of stuff to charity.  I am not leaving the house until after 11, when I will be on the computer and on the phone hoping to connect and snare 13 tickets to a PRACTICE GAME.

This is my mission.

Wish me luck.

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one down, three to go

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Seven hours later…with a brief break for lunch…

First,  I took everything off the shelves and out of the closet (except for the filing cabinet).

Then it was time for more coffee because the hard part was about to begin.

I had to confront my personal defects and the reality of my future:  was I the kind of quilter who would use leftover quilt blocks and pieces for making a thrifty hodgepodge quilt?

No.

Was I going to use the gold duvet cover with the matching pillowcases and dust ruffle again?

No.

Would I ever finish this sewing project?  Write this book?  Teach this class again?

No.

It went on like that all day.  I had a huge black garbage bag—the bigger the bag, the more you throw away!–and I filled it (and more).

I had boxes and bags for the stuff to donate.  I filled them.

And much to my embarrassment I found a huge box of notes from my two high school boyfriends.  Oh, the angst!  It all smelled like mold, but I had to open a few and relive the pain of first love and rejection.

It was still a little bit awful, I will admit.  (I don’t know what that says about my mental health).

Why did I keep this stuff?  And where has it been????

I found yellow ribbons and a dried flower in an envelope marked, “Barbara’s wedding”.  She will get a kick out of that.  I also found a blue velvet remnant from my bridesmaid dress (we sewed our own–they were lovely, with bell sleeves and ivory lace trim).

The filing cabinet cleaning was actually fun.  I separated the piles into “toss”, “keep” and “burn” (due to private info).

I found one large bin, opened it to see “treasures” I knew I’d never part with.  They were tucked safely in the bin for a reason.  So because I wasn’t “death cleaning”, I put the lid back on and found a home for it back in the closet.

My biggest mistake is having no tequila and ginger ale in the house.  I could use a celebratory alcoholic beverage right now.

Along with a bath.

 

 

 

Posted in rhode island, secondhand stuff | 2 Comments

not exactly death cleaning, but a start

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The sewing closet.

Okay, Monday Morning, here we go!  As you can see, some of this closet is highly organized, with fabrics grouped by color in my beloved plastic containers.  And then there’s…the rest of it.

I don’t even know what’s in there.

The file cabinet is another issue.  It’s filled with old contracts and book ideas.

As I’m going through the piles of stuff in this closet, I am approaching the project with the “death cleaning” advice in mind.  I’ll keep the stuff I know I will sew with.  But the rest?  I will ask myself:  will my kids know what to do with this?  Will they want it?  Do I want it?  Will anyone ever need this?

I have a giant trash bag for the stuff no one will ever want or use.  And I have a box for the things to donate to charity.

The end goal is to make room in my closet, which will make room on my workroom shelves for my stuff that is now in the basement pantry.  And that will empty pantry shelves for organized food storage so that Banjo Man’s giant bags of oranges, onions, wine and tomato juice bottles are not blocking the treadmill.

It’s a plan. 

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super sunday

superbowl

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, everyone!

Now I know most of you out there are not rooting for the New England Patriots (according to an article I read yesterday only 16% of the viewing audience will be screaming, “Go Pats!” at their television sets), but here in the Northeast we’re pretty excited.

And yes, tv ratings are expected to be down 10% from last year.  So if you’re not cheering for the Patriots to win or screaming for the Patriots to lose, you are probably watching bowling.

It is going to be the coldest Super Bowl day in history up there in Minnesota.  (Is that a surprise to anyone???)

Pink has the flu, so no one knows who will be singing the National Anthem.

I know nothing about Justin Timberlake, except I think he used to be in a boy band.  And even that is a guess.  He is friends with Tom Brady?  Maybe.  Will I watch the half time show?  Yes, I think I will, if nothing else but to further my musical education.

We are staying home this year, as our Super Bowl Party friends are on vacation.  I think they deserve it, after hosting the party for the last ten or twenty or thirty years.  We are content to spend the evening on the Giant Couch, in front of Banjo Man’s Giant Television.  Daughter Nancy might drop by to join us for tequila and snacks.

Banjo Man is making chicken fingers, with bleu cheese dip.  There will be a vegetable platter and two pieces of defrosted pineapple cake.  We are taking a break from our stringent winter eating plan and eating POTATO CHIPS.   We’ve propped the Lay’s bag on the kitchen counter and have talked often about how great it’s going to be to eat POTATO CHIPS on Sunday.   We have not agreed on what time we will open the highly-anticipated bag, as the game doesn’t start until 6.

The excitement builds.

I do admit that after three weeks of the Atkins Diet (phase 1, meaning eating nothing but protein and greens) I care more about the potato chips than the Super Bowl.

I have three quilts all set for stitching (I fold the binding over the edge of the quilt and stitch it down by hand) as I watch the game.  That’s approximately 960″ of stitches, which will keep me occupied throughout a gazillion commercials and instant replays.

Banjo Man has prepared the couch with extra pillows, so he plans to be horizontal for most of the evening.

(What else is new?)

Enjoy your day, everyone!

Where are you going to watch the game?  And what are your favorite football snacks?

 

 

 

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snow day

We’re having a little storm today.  Maybe 6″ or so.  No wind, so the power will stay on and it will be just a typical winter day.

The Big Blue Bug Solution man just called to cancel his visit this morning.  What’s the Big Blue Bug Solution, you ask?  It’s a nuclear weapon in my War Against Mice.  Since we hired professionals, the noise in the attic has stopped.

It’s a Big Blue Miracle.

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We fight mice in our attic.  We fight mice in our cars.  My  mother’s car is now a battlefield.  Yesterday I took it to the local gas station and, quarters in hand, used their vacuum cleaner to clean the mice “evidence” from the inside of the Camry.   I bought more peppermint oil and sprinkled it all over the floor mats.  Now I will see if any of the little b*****ds return.

They hate peppermint oil.  And while driving my mother’s car is like zipping down the road in the middle of a candy cane, it could be worse.

I even have a special mice-repellent spray for the engine.

Every Saturday morning I listen to the local radio station’s Big Blue Bug Solution’s program.  Tony DeJesus answers questions on mice, bugs, squirrels, etc.  Every time there’s a mouse question I hang on every word.  Sometimes I take notes.

Knowledge is power.

The New England Patriots–yes, I know everyone outside of New England hates them–have their own channel on cable tv for the week.  It’s called “Not Done Yet” and it is 9 AM to midnight coverage of the goings on in Minnesota, plus play off games from years past, all week.

Yesterday I watched the team leave the stadium, ride on six buses to our Rhode Island airport and board their brand new giant plane.

While all of this was going on, I made a Mexican chicken soup in the crock pot, which would turn out to be inedible and disgusting.  Banjo Man doctored it up with two cans of beans and pronounced it “sort of okay”.

I should come up with something to cook today, but I’d rather be sewing.

Or killing mice.

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Posted in rhode island, television | 2 Comments

the death cleaning dilemma

There’s a new book out:  THE GENTLE ART OF SWEDISH DEATH CLEANING, by Margareta Magnusson.

Margareta sounds like a lovely lady.  Thoughtful, kind and filled with the wisdom of the elderly, she writes that we should be considerate of our children who will not have the time (too busy with jobs) or energy (too tired from grieving our deaths) to clean out our stuff after we die.

So we should do it now.  To make things easier for our children after we’re dead.

(Really?  Is that supposed to be a priority?)

While cleaning out clutter and unwanted old stuff is always a good thing, the book advocates a truly minimalist lifestyle in our later years.  Like getting rid of everything except your mattress, coffee mug and walker.

Okay, I’m exaggerating.  Just a bit.  But those Swedes can be harsh when it comes to making open spaces on the bookshelves.

I’m a bit conflicted about this.  On one hand, I am always happy to reduce clutter.  God knows I have had enough of it, but I’m pretty darn good at getting rid of stuff, too.   Banjo Man and I have made a lot of progress in the basement over the last few years.  After all, I even convinced him that we were never going to use our ice skates again (you know you are getting old when you measure activities by their hip-breaking potential).

I broached the subject with my friend Barbara last week.  She and her husband recently retired and moved back to Rhode Island, so she is still unpacking boxes.  They did a pretty massive cleaning before the move, but nothing approaching the intensity of a death-cleaning.

She has inherited lots of family things–boxes of slides, quilts, furniture, trinkets– over the years and seems to find them fascinating.  So the concept of “death cleaning” was a bit…repellent.

And as far as making things easier for the kids, Banjo Man’s reaction was to shrug and point out that the kids would be inheriting a house and shouldn’t complain about having to empty it.

I thought that was a bit harsh.  I don’t want them to hate us for having to rent a dumpster.

One of Margareta’s pieces of advice is:  Don’t hang onto things that nobody seems to want.

So you ask the kids if they want certain stuff.  Sounds reasonable.  But I have one son who doesn’t want anything–he doesn’t care for clutter–and one son who lives in fear that we are going to get rid of something important.  I’m not sure about my daughter.  Maybe it’s time to get specific.

Or not.

I really don’t want to start a cleaning project because I am going to die.

Pardon me if that doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend February.

My sister-in-law told me a story of a delicate floral-print sugar and creamer set that she had found after her mother-in-law died.  She packed it in bubble-wrap and stored it carefully in a box in her basement.  Many years later she brought it out to give to a sister-in-law, assuming that she would want her mother’s carefully saved, precious sugar and creamer.

The sister-in-law unwrapped it and after a long moment said, “Uh, did you know this was plastic?”  And she had no memory of the sugar and creamer, no sentimental ties at all.

And neither woman wanted to keep them.  How hilarious is that!!!!

Also, according to the book, you can have your memories without “clinging” to your stuff.

Yes, I can see how that is true.  But I like my stuff.  Most of it, anyway.

What do you think????   Are you a dumpster-before-death or a dumpster-after-death person?

If you want to read more about the book, check it out here:  http://www.time.com/5063275/death-cleaning

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in a more pie opinion, books & music, family, rhode island | 2 Comments