looking at the last straw

I am having a hard time this morning.  We are two weeks away from heading to the lake and leaving behind the Winter of Bad Things.

But the hits keep coming.  Not medically, thank God, but to our shock our beloved Toyota Highlander didn’t pass its state inspection yesterday.

Our beautiful, reliable, beloved Highlander has rusted out from underneath and I am very, very sad.  There is nothing else wrong with it.

Damn Toyota and their rust issues!  Years ago I lost my wonderful truck to rust and Toyota’s buy-back program.  That was awful.  We’ve managed just fine with one car pretty much ever since, even though most people think it’s a bit odd.

We loved traveling in that Highlander.

Is there anything better than a road trip?

Here is Banjo Man inspecting the car the afternoon we bought it.  We were so excited when we saw it.

My Happy Place, when the car was “new”.  It had heated seats.  I was in love.

There is another Highlander at the lake.  It should be safe from New England rust there, we hope.

When we return to Rhode Island in the fall, we’ll rent a car and start shopping.

So… we limp to the Finish Line (aka The Lake) without a car for the next fourteen days.  Daughter Nancy will be getting us through the last appointments, trips to the Post Office and anything else that needs to be done before we escape to the mountains, before I sit on the dock with a tequila cocktail and watch the fish jump.

It’s all very stressful.  And I am at the point where cutting up fabric and watching endless episodes of TIME TEAM won’t help.  I’m ready to go to bed with a bag or two of Milano cookies and a box of tissues.

I’m done.


Posted in personal female whining, rhode island, travel | 4 Comments

it all adds up

Those helpful hands belong to my daughter. We were putting blue squares on the design wall (which is actually a length of batting clipped onto the drapery rod in front of my office windows).  Nancy does a lot of the step ladder work which keeps me from whining about my sore hip.

Last week we put together a dark red quilt top.  Next week we are turning our design talents to a gray one.  We like them all.  It’s a design that lets me use up a lot of smaller pieces of fabric.

I call these the “Post Prostatectomy Series”, because I’ve sewn them all while Banjo Man has been recovering from his surgery.

When I am stressed I have to DO SOMETHING.  Whether it’s baking, cooking, cleaning out closets, selling stuff on Ebay or sewing, I have to keep busy or I will self-destruct.  Last fall half a tree landed on our house and came through the living room, the furnace was broken for a month, windows cracked, and of course the absolute worst of all:  Banjo Man’s cancer diagnosis and treatments and tests and surgery.  So I sewed a lot.  Pretty much every day.  Cutting fabric is soothing, believe me.  Especially while listening to British history podcasts or watching old episodes of Time Team on Amazon.

Yesterday I sat down to alleviate my fabric-buying guilt.  I knew I had used a lot of fabric this winter and was ready to pat myself on the back and rid myself of a guilty longing to return to Material Girls in Nebraska, where the best fabrics in the universe reside.

I went through my patterns and added up the fabric requirements.  I estimated the yardage on the designs I created myself.  And the total amount of fabric I have used this fall/winter/spring?

130 yards.

Let me say that again:  130 YARDS!!!!

I did the math three times over two days and came up with the same amount.  Then I organized my shelves, folded fabric, neatened bins.  But I had no empty spaces, no gaping holes where 130 yards of fabric used to be.   What the heck????!!!  I do not understand.

It’s one of those mysteries of life.

As Banjo Man continues to improve, my not-very-stressed-anymore energy has gone into preparing for the long-awaited trip to the lake.  I’m digging out summer clothes and deciding what to take.

It’s another one of life’s mysteries as to why I own four pairs of exercise pants.

Never mind.  Three of them have gone into the donation bag.

Three weeks from tomorrow we head west.  We’re shipping clothes and taking very few suitcases, as Banjo Man won’t be lifting heavy things for some time to come.  He should have a bit more energy by then, so we look forward to the trip.  And the summer.

The lake awaits, but maybe I should stay out of quilt shops.




Posted in family, quilting, rhode island, the cancer fight | 1 Comment

i told her to smile

I’m not in the habit of talking to dogs who are shopping with their owners in Walmart, but this funny girl looked very much like Keeley, our daughter’s dog from years past. I knew Nancy would get a kick out of seeing a photo of Keeley’s lookalike.

So I held up my phone and said, “Smile!”

And she gave me this, a tortured, obedient, little smile.

Or maybe that’s just her face.

Posted in just for fun, rhode island, shopping | Leave a comment

happy mother’s day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, grandmothers and aunts out there!

How I wish I had a photo of luscious flowers to put on the blog, but it is 47 degrees, windy, rainy and overcast here.  Not only are there no daffodils left in my yard, I have not ventured out to buy a bouquet or two for the kitchen island.

I almost bought tulips last week, but a skinny bunch cost $8.99 at the grocery store and I thought it was silly to spend that much.

Am I a bit grumpy?  Well, yes, a little.  Is Banjo Man a bit grumpy?  Um, yes, he is.  After all, he’s the one with all the reasons to be.  BUT Retired Mountain Lady (and husband Jon) sent him a gift a few days ago.  Last night we watched four episodes of…wait for it….WKRP In CINCINNATI!!!

Do you remember that tv show?  We loved it way back when and had no idea it was out on DVD’s.  Every year son Ben mentions that he would love to see it again.

LOS ANGELES – JANUARY 1: Cast members (from left) Richard Sanders, Frank Bonner (in back), Loni Anderson, Gary Sandy, Howard Hesseman (seated in front), Jan Smithers, Gordon Jump and Tim Reid, star in the CBS television series “WKRP in Cincinnati.” Image dated 1979. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Howard Hesseman;Loni Anderson;Frank Bonner;Gary Sandy;Richard Sanders;Tim Reid;Jan Smithers;Gordon Jump

We spent almost two hours laughing at the antics of the WKRP staff.  The show debuted in 1978 and ran for four seasons.  Forty-four years ago!!!!

We are the grateful owners of all four seasons and will try to make them last.  We’ve taken a short break from THE AMERICANS (fabulous show) and British crime series, but Banjo Man has not liked anything else we’ve streamed.  He isn’t interested in TIME TEAM, my absolute favorite show (British archaeology digs) and I don’t care for THE OFFICE reruns.

So on this miserably wet Mother’s Day I will defrost a chunk of blueberry cake to enjoy with my second cup of coffee, iron some quilt squares while watching an old episode of TIME TEAM, talk to the kids, defrost soup for dinner and spend the evening with old friends in Cincinnati.

I hope your Mother’s Day is filled with the lovely things you like to do and the people you love to see.

2020: Local tulip fields.

Posted in family, rhode island, television | 2 Comments

coastal grandmother?

“Coastal grandmother”.  Did you know this is the name of a very popular new trend?  When I first saw the phrase I confess that I was a little excited.  After all, I spend months on the edge of a lake.  I am a grandmother.  Combine the two and I am one deliriously happy person.  Was I part of a trend and didn’t know it?

And then… I read the article.  First of all, here are the clothes the ultimate coastal grandmother wears:

Beige capris.  They make me look fat.  And they stain.  And need to be ironed.

A white button-down shirt.  This is to be worn unbuttoned, over a beige or white tank top.  My problem with this is that it is something else to be ironed.  My summer tops cost $8 and come from Kohl’s and Walmart, because they are so stained from cooking that I toss them out at the end of the season.  And let’s not even talk about unflattering white tank tops.

Bucket hat.  These are cute, but the brims aren’t big enough for the afternoon sun.

And what do coastal grandmothers do?  Well, they practice a “slower pace of life”.   This was another issue for me.  When I am at the lake the last thing I want is a slower pace of life (that’s called “winter” and by April I am heartily sick of it).  I love being busy with my family and my friends all day, every day.  I might have to sit down and put my feet up for a quick afternoon nap once in a while, but that’s only to get ready for more fun.

Coastal grandmothers arrange wildflowers and pick mint from their garden for tea.  I have no skill with flower arranging (but thank goodness my friends do), but I do grow mint.  Once in a while I actually remember to pick it.  My favorite garden plucking comes from my basil plants and the big fat sage plant that sits near the front porch, so I don’t know how pot-gardening makes me trendy.

Coastal grandmothers exude “an air of uncomplicated bliss”.

I do love this one, uncomplicated bliss.  Because happiness should be uncomplicated–hence the term “pure joy”– and if this is a trend then everyone should embrace it.

Words to live by!!!!



Posted in a more pie opinion, grandmother stuff | 1 Comment

where did the sweatpants go?

This is not Banjo Man’s new pair of sweatpants, but it’s definitely more interesting.

Did someone send it to me?  If you did, please let me know so I can shower you with thanks.  As the cover says, there are 1000 recipes inside.

When the package hit the front deck, Amazon sent an email that said my order had been delivered.  The order was supposed to contain new sweatpants.

My forty-five minute “chat” online with an Amazon customer service representative this morning finally led to an understanding, though it was not easy to get to that point.  Surely, in the tens of millions of packages that Amazon has shipped, mine couldn’t have been the first one sent in error.  But “Anisha” was flummoxed, poor thing.

Two hours later a gift card was sent to my account and I reordered the sweatpants.  The cookbook stays with me for now, until someone from Amazon demands its return.  From what I understand, if I send it back Amazon will think I should have sent back sweatpants and and then all hell will break loose.

I don’t want to spend any more time on the computer.  Two days ago I was in an extended “chat” about an issue with my new Kindle reader.  I ended up sending it back for a replacement.  This morning my Fitbit app recorded that I’d eaten 7200 calories for breakfast.  The Fitbit folks could not figure it out, but they did their best and said they’d email me Monday.  I ended up solving it myself (the app weirdly recorded that I ate 100 bananas).

Two days ago I chatted with a “beauty consultant” at Bobbi Brown.  My favorite lipstick shade was no longer available and no one knew when or if it would return.  The consultant came up with another shade that is very, very close to “Neutral Rose” and I so hope she is right.

This “chatting” business takes a lot of time.  I’m sure it’s faster than being on hold with Customer Service, but there are times when I wish that sweatpants and lipstick would simply appear on my doorstep.  Like magic.

And maybe next week they will.


Posted in rhode island, shopping | Leave a comment

nine perfect strangers

From Rotten Tomatoes:

Based on The New York Times best-selling book by author Liane Moriarty, “Nine Perfect Strangers” takes place at a boutique health-and-wellness resort that promises healing and transformation as nine stressed city dwellers try to get on a path to a better way of living. Watching over them during this 10-day retreat is the resort’s director, Masha, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies. However, these nine “perfect” strangers have no idea what is about to hit them.

We really enjoyed this mini-series on Hulu this week.  As Banjo Man rests and recovers from his surgery and hospital stays, we spend a few hours each evening watching television…and then head to bed early.

Hey, it works for us!!

NINE PERFECT STRANGERS is based on a 2018 book by Liane Moriarty, so if you don’t have Hulu you might enjoy reading it instead.  I’ve always liked her novels.

The first episode starts out as if it is going to be a “feel good”, lightweight story about people growing and changing while enjoying a retreat, but it takes a dark turn and gets wild.

We never quite knew what was going to happen next.

Tonight we start THE AMERICANS, a multi-dvd gift from my brother.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.

UPDATE:  Banjo Man’s recovery is going to take time.  He is doing really well, but we both recognize that this is going to take a while and he has to be patient.  Naps are good!  A month from now he’ll be ready for summer and all things fun.  But for now?  He has to take it easy.





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you never even called me by name

During the eight days of Banjo Man’s hospital adventures, I was treated kindly by many, many strangers who worked for the hospital systems.  And such kindness was very much appreciated.

To my bemusement (is that a word?) the women at the screening area at Yale-New Haven called me, “Sunshine”.  They called everyone “Sunshine”.

Here’s your ID and your name tag.  You’re all set, Sunshine.

That was a new one.  Possibly a Connecticut thing?

There was once a very young nursing assistant who referred to Banjo Man as “sweetheart”.


The one that made me wish I was a loud, violent person was when a 50’ish male nurse practitioner called me “young lady”.


Of course I didn’t.  He was showing me a CT scan of a possible colon blockage (it wasn’t) and discussing possible surgery (there would be none) and that surgeons were on call and standing by (we didn’t need them).  It was in Banjo Man’s best interest that I be polite and absorb the information.

The Texans have this name thing down pat.  Everyone is “ma’am” or “sir”.  Works for me!

So keeping the theme of this blog, here’s a little blast from 1971.  Rest in peace, Steve Goodman and John Prine.  And thank you for one of the great, comic country western songs.


Posted in a more pie opinion, family, music, rhode island, texas, the cancer fight | 2 Comments

home never felt so good

Banjo Man is home from the hospital.

Sound the trumpets!!!

I am trying not to hover.

He is following a specific diet and I am in charge.  The discharge nurse said, “If you miss us and want to come back to the hospital, eat a cheeseburger.  Or a salad.”

I have Googled information on a post-Ileus diet and boy, am I prepared.  The refrigerator is stocked with the proper snacks and Banjo Man has been told–by me–that he can’t eat anything else without checking with me first.

We’re taking this slowly.

Tonight we’ll catch up with the last two episodes of SANDITON.  It’s not the best mini-series on PBS, but it’s entertaining enough for right now.

I’m looking forward to season 3 of THE BAY (British crime).  And season 4 of SHAKEPEARE & HATHAWAY (light, comic mystery).

And what’s under the needle?

I’m looking forward to getting back to it.


Posted in family, rhode island, the cancer fight | 8 Comments

i think it’s sunday

Actually, I had to sit here and take a few moments to figure out what day it is.


It has been a week since we went to New Haven for Monday’s surgery.

A lot has happened since then.  As  you know, Banjo Man came through surgery with flying colors and we arrived home early Tuesday evening.  Unfortunately on Wednesday afternoon he was in a lot of pain.  There were phone calls and texts, and between Angela, the visiting nurse and our surgeon Dr. Kim, we realized we had a problem.  Dr. Kim, the man in charge, decided that Glen should go to the ER because he most likely had an ileus.

What the hell is an ileus?

Maybe you already know.  We’d never heard of it, but it’s a complication that can happen after surgery:  the colon won’t wake up and…nothing happens.

So poor Banjo Man has been in the hospital, in pain, hooked up to IV’s and with a tube in his stomach, walking the halls, getting x-rays and CT scans, waiting for Something To Happen, since Wednesday night.

BUT he turned the corner (so to speak) on Saturday afternoon and has begun to feel better.  He was himself again–wide awake, chatty, informing me of the Jello flavors he preferred for next week’s meals, explaining how he wanted his blankets fixed.  You get the picture.  I couldn’t believe how alert he was.  The nose tube was gone (per Dr. Kim’s permission) and he was allowed to have tiny sips of water from a spoon.

Today he will be given some soft food and, if that goes well, tomorrow he should be able to come home.

And won’t that be wonderful!!

The hospital is 23 minutes from our house.  Yes, I timed it.  I’d never been there until this week, but it’s pretty nice.  Dr. Kim, who is 90 minutes away in New Haven, has been in contact with me and our small, local hospital (part of the huge Yale-New Haven hospital organization of which Dr. Kim is Chief of Urology).  He calls me two or three times a day to ask how Banjo Man is and/or to give me updates and reassurance.  And then yesterday he made a surprise visit to the hospital to make sure everyone on staff was following his express instructions for Banjo Man’s care and to see for himself how he was progressing.

It was impressive.  He is a lovely man.

So next week Banjo Man will be back on track, eating Jello and pudding and bone broth.  The catheter comes out on Tuesday, in New Haven.  Last week Dr. Kim told us that NO ONE should touch the catheter but him and we have obeyed, of course.

42 days before the lake.  We’ll celebrate then.

Want to know more about my hero, Dr. Kim?





Posted in family, rhode island, the cancer fight | 4 Comments