what a treat


Isn’t this a great idea?  Bananas and mandarins for the little ones who might be hungry in the supermarket!

Does your grocery store do this?  Have I not noticed until now?  Should I get out more???

Rhode Island has a huge population of, uh, elderly people.  Of which I am one, now that I have turned 65.  I need to make a rare appearance at the market during the weekend so I can actually see children.

My little friend Sam, soon to be four, might stop in for a visit during this school vacation week.  So of course I had to go to the store today to get his favorites, cheese sticks and individual ice cream cups, just in case his father has a chance to bring him over.  Sam likes to kneel at my coffee table and eat ice cream while we watch  episodes of Thomas the Train.

He also likes to play his guitar like a dobro and he has learned some bluegrass tunes, so we might have to do a little jammin’.

Yesterday I cleaned out the freezer and made a black bean soup, with pineapple and squash and tomatoes and rice.


I didn’t think it was very good, but Banjo Man seemed to enjoy it.

Today I’m going to–hopefully–redeem myself tonight with a creamy tomato basil tortellini soup.

I found the recipe here:


I think whoever invented tortellini should be given a medal.

Or at least a free banana.


Posted in food, friends, rhode island, shopping | 2 Comments

coming out of the cave

I think this is commonly called a “blank slate”:IMG_2434.JPG

You notice there is nothing on it?  Such is February in New England.  February 11th was supposed to have been a breakfast get together with friends in town, but it snowed.

We also refused to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  I came home from CVS and told Banjo Man, “I am not buying you a $4.00 Valentine’s card and I don’t want you buying me a $4.00 card either.”

Banjo Man:  “Is this is trick?”

I assured him I was serious.  Instead we bought Season 6 of “Game of Thrones” and spent last week watching episodes 1-8.  Two more to go, maybe tonight.  It’s very intense, so we limit ourselves to two episodes per night, otherwise we would have nightmares about dragons and bloody decapitations.

But I am renouncing my hermit ways, hauling my lazy ass out of a rut and getting back in the game.  Last night my buddy Barb (I’ve mentioned her before–we’ve been friends since we were 13,  and she and her husband have now retired, moved back to the neighborhood and live right down the street again!!!) and her husband Rod came over for chicken stew and cards.  We stuffed ourselves with chicken and pasta and brownies and then played Hearts until midnight.

Since we haven’t entertained since before Thanksgiving, we were ready to party.  Barb and Rod have spent months remodeling her grandmother’s farm house while making dinners on a hot plate, so we toasted to the any-day-now installation of her new gas stove and beautiful new sinks.

Next weekend Jeff and Angela are coming over for dinner and Mexican Train dominoes.

My dear friend Ruth and I are going out to lunch on Wednesday.

I am tired of sitting here being grumpy, staring out the office window at snow and ice and slush and mud.  So I am learning some new songs and blasting music through the speakers all over the house and finishing up some sewing projects and filling in the calendar with social engagements.

Winter is slowly coming to an end.  It’s time to cast off the hermit persona, turn off the giant TV, get off the couch and venture out into the world again.

Let’s all hope for an early Spring!


Posted in friends, personal female whining, rhode island | 2 Comments

long way from the lake

The neighbor sent a picture of our car at the lake house.


I think there is at least two feet of snow piled on it.  Maybe more.

Summer seems very far away right now, but I have counted the days until I see the lake again–112–and I’m sure the snow will have melted by then.

June can’t come fast enough.


Posted in lake | 2 Comments

fixing things in february

I seem to be fixing things a lot these days.

I’ve installed three cable set top boxes.  Two were replacements for broken boxes.  One was a replacement for the replacement, which had a very strange tendency to flip to “guide” every ten seconds.

I have reprogrammed three remote controls.

My old dvd player broke.  I replaced it with a new one that can play dvd’s from all regions of the world.  Why?  Because I love old British tv shows.  And I am a techie geek.

To celebrate I ordered the three season series of “2000 Acres of Sky”, which is set on a remote Scottish island.

I really love remote Scottish islands.


Remote Scottish island, 2004.


I’ve replaced broken HDMI cables.  And bought extras for my cable stash.  Yes, I have a cable stash.  You can’t have enough.

The bobbin winder on my sewing machine broke.  I googled a solution and bypassed a glitch in the computer by reprogramming the innards.  It’s not perfect, but it will do until I can take it in to a real repairman.

I broke my office chair.  Banjo Man replaced the caster last night.  It’s loose, but it works.

My tuner broke.  Amazon delivered a new one.

My violin shoulder rest broke.  And Amazon delivered a new one.

There’s a loose seal on the freezer door of my refrigerator.  I need to google how to fix it.

My toilet broke.  I bought new parts and will fix it tomorrow.

I’ve been trying to fix some strange bumps on my face.  I finally gave up on the daily Retin A cream and went to the dermatologist.  He’s a young fellow, very quiet and shy.

Until yesterday.

“Can you fix these?” I asked, showing him the growths on my cheek.

“It says here on your chart that you’re a RETIRED WRITER!!!”

“Um, yes.”


The questions went on and on while he flipped my mostly naked body around and practically strip searched me for various forms of skin cancer.

I answered all his questions, encouraged him on his script-writing endeavors, gave him a couple of suggestions for writing books to read and, after he enthusiastically wrote everything down, reminded him:

“Can you fix these things on my face??”

“Oh, yeah, sure.”  He got his freezer spray and zapped them, then thanked me for everything and took off with his notes.

So I did get my non-cancerous bumps fixed eventually.

The UPS driver got stuck on our driveway Monday.  He said he’s not coming back until winter is over.  He will leave future Amazon deliveries at the other end of the driveway, far, far away, in front of my mother’s garage, where hopefully no one will steal them.

I cannot fix the road.  And I cannot fix my wimpy UPS driver, either.

But other than that?  I’m on a roll.


(photo from lifehacker.com)


Posted in rhode island | 2 Comments

snow day

This morning, as I was dumping all sorts of lovely ingredients into the crock pot while listening to the local radio station, Banjo Man laughed and said, “Boy, you Rhode Islanders really love your storms!”

I’d spent the previous hour listening to people all over the state call the radio station and report what the conditions were, and I intended to listen all day.  So I guess Banjo Man was right.  We do love talking about storms.  Ever since the famous, surprising “Blizzard of ’78”, Rhode Islanders have been obsessed with knowing exactly where the snow is and how much is coming down.

The radio has been on–well, all three radios have been on–for over four hours.  Rhode Island is a small state, but the weather patterns vary across the large island, small islands, coastal towns and the always-hardest-hit northern part of the state.

The reports have ranged from rain to light snow to sleet to thunder to thick snow, with increasing reports of traffic accidents and power outages.

I find it fascinating to listen to as I sit here in my office/music room/sewing area.  I have a project to finish, so I’m praying the power will stay on.  It’s great fun to listen to the radio and stitch away, a mug of coffee near by and a view of the storm from the windows.

It rained here until 10:15, but now the snow is heavy and coming down fast.  We have filled water containers and assembled the flashlights.

The Fed Ex truck just delivered my latest Amazon order.  Isn’t that amazing?  In case you’re wondering, the box held a new guitar tuner, a dvd and a new dvd player (the previous one, so old it didn’t have HD, finally died) for my bedroom tv.  I’m calling it my belated birthday present.  It has the ability to play dvd’s from different regions around the world so I can finally watch some obscure old BBC tv series.

Last night’s “Sweet Fire Chicken” in the crock pot was pretty tasty.  Easy to throw together and nothing remotely “gourmet”, it was good enough to have seconds.  And we are counting the minutes until noon so we can finish the leftovers for lunch.



Projects in progress!

Want to see something very cool?  I have a new sewing table, a real sewing table, for the first time in my life.  I love it.  My sewing machine sits on a little shelf below the table so the entire top of the table is one lovely, flat surface.  It makes sewing and quilting so much easier.


The wind is gusting, the trees are swaying and I think I’d better send this blog post while we still have power.  After all, it’s February!  Time to expect some snow!



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blizzard comin’

We’re supposed to be getting our first blizzard of the winter tomorrow.  It should start at 7 AM and stop at midnight.   The weatherman is warning of high winds along with the snow.

So of course the first thing I think about is food.  Specifically, what kind of hot, comforting, filling, yummy stew can be cooking in the crock pot while a foot of snow covers the ground and the wind howls around the house.

I found a new website with lots of slow cooker recipes!


I tried the Asian beef last week, but because I sliced the flank steak too thin the beef crumbled into bits.  But the flavor was decent.  We added hot sesame oil to the sauce and served it over brown rice.

This afternoon I’m trying the “Sweet Fire Chicken” recipe.  I’ll let you know how it comes out.

Tomorrow I’ll do my own version of Green Chicken Chili.

This has been a quiet winter so far.  Banjo Man frequently escapes to town to run errands and get groceries, but I have been a bit agoraphobic and have no desire to go anywhere.  It’s cozy here in my little corner of the world!  Like a big old bear I’ve been hibernating in my warm house for the winter.  In a few weeks we’ll head to Texas for the music festival, so hopefully the warm Austin sunshine will perk me up and shove me back into the world again.

Until then I’ll be stirring whatever is in the crock pot, watching the snow fall and hoping the electricity stays on.

2015-01-27 006

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artichoke dip and football

In honor of Super Bowl Sunday, Banjo Man received this photo from an old friend.  He was quite thrilled to show me that he had played football, though the thought of that just boggles my mind.


He’s on the far right, number 86.  Lookin’ tough, Banjo Man!!

We always go to Ruth & Kenny’s for their Super Bowl party–always a great time!!!–and this year when I asked Ruth what I should bring (appetizer?  dessert?) she hesitated a second and then said, “Well, there is something, if it’s not too much trouble…”

At that point I was very afraid she would ask me to make my flourless chocolate cake, which is an amazing amount of work but worth it when you take a bite, but I have the energy of a half-dead turtle right now and have not cooked more than twice or shopped for groceries at all since we were in  Texas.

Ruth continued.  “Would you make your hot artichoke dip?”


I assured her it was very easy and no trouble at all.  All I had to do was pray that my old food processor, cracked and dying, would hold up for one more batch of dip (and it did!).

Here’s the recipe, adapted from Pioneer Woman’s recipe:

2 cans of artichoke hearts, drained
1 8 oz block of cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
2 green onions, chopped (or more, if you like–they’re important to the flavor)
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Tabasco sauce, according to taste  OR cayenne pepper but don’t be shy
salt and pepper to taste, but sometimes I skip it because the Parmesan is salty enough

I dump all of this into the word processor and mix it up.

Put into baking dishes (I use two rectangular dishes 8″x 4″ x 1.5″).  I’ll use one for company and freeze the other for another time.  For the Super Bowl party I made 1 1/2 times the recipe and used bigger dishes.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes if at room temperature, and longer if previously refrigerated, until hot and bubbly.  Your kitchen will smell heavenly!

I serve it with Wheat Thins.  Pioneer Woman says the leftovers make a great sandwich spread.

It was a big hit at the party and Ruth was happy.  No one missed the gourmet chocolate cake!!!!



Posted in family, food, rhode island | 4 Comments

sing street

Another great movie, seen from the couch:


From Rotten Tomatoes:

From director John Carney (ONCE, BEGIN AGAIN), SING STREET takes us back to 1980s Dublin seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy named Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who is looking for a break from a home strained by his parents’ relationship and money troubles, while trying to adjust to his new inner-city public school where the kids are rough and the teachers are rougher. He finds a glimmer of hope in the mysterious, über-cool and beautiful Raphina (Lucy Boynton), and with the aim of winning her heart he invites her to star in his band’s music videos. There’s only one problem: he’s not part of a band…yet. She agrees, and now Conor must deliver what he’s promised – calling himself “Cosmo” and immersing himself in the vibrant rock music trends of the decade, he forms a band with a few lads, and the group pours their heart into writing lyrics and shooting videos. Inspired by writer/director John Carney’s life and love for music, SING STREET shows us a world where music has the power to take us away from the turmoil of everyday life and transform us into something greater.

This movie touched my heart–and brought back memories.  When I was thirteen I bought a guitar in order to learn to play and impress a boy I’d seen on a beach.  

Yep, I saved my money and finally ordered a guitar from Sears.  It arrived and two days later I fell off a horse and broke my left arm.

Nothing is easy when you are thirteen…


Posted in family | 1 Comment

movie nights

Banjo Man and I have been watching a lot of movies and mini-series this past month.  And we have a “watch list” we keep adding to.

Last night was this gem, A MAN CALLED OVE.


The book had been recommended to me months ago by a good friend, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading it.  The movie was **wonderful**.

Here’s a blurb from the website “Rotten Tomatoes”:

Stepping from the pages of Fredrik Backman’s international best-selling novel, Ove is the quintessential angry old man next door. An isolated retiree with strict principles and a short fuse, who spends his days enforcing block association rules that only he cares about, and visiting his wife’s grave, Ove has given up on life. Enter a boisterous young family next door who accidentally flattens Ove’s mailbox while moving in and earning his special brand of ire. Yet from this inauspicious beginning an unlikely friendship forms and we come to understand Ove’s past happiness and heartbreaks. What emerges is a heartwarming tale of unreliable first impressions and the gentle reminder that life is sweeter when it’s shared.

It’s a Swedish movie with English subtitles.  The acting was superb and the cat was terrific.  We’re still wondering how they made a cat behave!  Hilarious.

We rented it for 99 cents on Amazon.  What a bargain!!!

Let me know if you’ve seen it and what you thought.

Posted in family, movies | 4 Comments

it’s never too late

Or maybe it is.

This would have been my Christmas card, if I’d had the time to have cards printed and mailed.  But other things took priority last December, so here is the card you would have received, so pretend it came in the mail.



Not on the card, but just so you know:

They all have the same last name.

They all love the lake.

They all love to play Mexican Train Dominoes.

And they all love to eat pie.

And I love them all very much.

Posted in family, just for fun, lake | 1 Comment