the perfect chilly afternoon chore


In case you’re wondering, they’re burning driftwood.  Lots and lots of wood has ended up on our beach this year.  And it keeps coming in.

The two big guys and the one little guy have built a fire in the stone-rimmed pit by the beach and are busy getting rid of what they can.  The Funny Grandson has a squirt gun, but I’m not sure why and I’m certainly not going down there to ask.

I do know that this is the perfect way for all three of them to spend their time today.  Later on there will be s’mores to cook over the coals, should any of them have the energy to come up the hill and get the ingredients.

My daughter-in-law and I are hiding up in the house.  Relaxation time at last!


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he’s baaaaack


The Funny Grandson has returned to the lake for the fourth summer in a row.  He and his mom arrived Saturday night, as did Banjo Man.  I had a happy car full of family and suitcases on the way home from the airport!

Want to know how cold it is?  Well, if you look at the above picture you will notice that the kid with the plate of blueberry pancakes in front of him is wearing his winter jacket.  He insisted on having breakfast on the chilly porch so he could “see the lake”.

And it’s not exactly summer here yet.  We don’t know where summer is or when it is going to arrive.  The 10-day forecast is not looking good.

But strangely enough, we’re having one hell of a good time despite the temperature.  Our visiting Texans are pleased to be out of 100 degree heat.

The Funny Grandson’s father is stuck in Dallas at a week-long educational conference and has made some very, very sad phone calls to us.  He is feeling pathetic and left out.

We’ll see him Monday.

In the meantime we’ll keep driving around the peninsula each day “counting deer” (24 sightings today, 28 yesterday).  And going to Clark Fork for ice cream and the library.  We eat cookies and Bing cherries and hamburgers.  Tomorrow we’re making our own huckleberry ice cream and hoping it turns purple.  We chase the geese off the beach.  And watch the sunsets from the dock.  Oh, and we play Super Heroes UNO.  We’ve been to the Cabinet Gorge Dam to watch the giant waterfalls and even drove east far enough to see the “Welcome to Montana” sign.

And we spent three hours searching for the FG’s life jacket this morning.  It was finally discovered inside a cooler under a stack of plastic tablecloths.

Life is good.




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ready as i’ll ever be


I would keep cooking and baking, but I’m running out of space.  This freezer was empty 12 days ago and I have had a GREAT TIME filling it up with meals for my family and friends.  It’s why I come out to the lake early.

Looking at this picture I realize I need to do some major reorganizing in there.  This morning I’m making peanut butter pies and cooking up three batches of taco meat.

And then I might be done.


24 pounds of country pork ribs cooked and ready to freeze.


Summer weather will be here any day now and instead of cooking I want to be down at the lake with my grandson, all day and every day.

Because that’s what it’s all about, right?



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goose war

They come in a gang of a dozen.  Or a little group of three.  Or eleven of them with five goslings.

They poop on my beach.  Massive amounts of poop, people!  I’m not talking about the normal byproducts of living with nature in a beautiful lakeside area.  I’m talking cesspool here.   A place where no one would dare go barefoot.  Ever.

I bought a leaf rake for clearing a path through it.  And I moved the beach chairs down close to the water to block the geese from stepping on the beach.  I didn’t remember this problem ever happening like this before, so I had to google “how to repel geese”.  I found very few solutions.

This year the people in town, at the City Beach, have hired a man with Border Collies to patrol their beach and large grassy lawn.  I wonder if that’s working.

My neighbors down the lake said they get up at 4 AM and “shoot” the geese with plastic balls via slingshots.  The geese aren’t injured, of course, but they do slowly waddle back into the lake.  This neighbor has a large green lawn, a prime goose-dining area.  I figure they eat there and swim over to my rocky beach to poop.

I’m not anti-goose.  But with 148 square miles of lake for them to cruise, I just wish they’d poop elsewhere.  At least in June, July and August.

One of the articles I read said to decorate the beach with shiny Mylar waving things, like pinwheels.  So I went to the Dollar Store and bought what little stuff I could find.  The next morning I woke up at 4:45, needing to get the beach goose-proof before they made their morning visit.


Believe it or not, I think this might be working, despite it looking like the aftermath of a drunken luau.

I’ll keep you posted.








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the strange gift


Someone dropped this off in the driveway Saturday afternoon.  I don’t know who it was because I was sound asleep in the living room.  Stretched out with my feet on a hassock, a quilt draped over me while the television showed an episode of “Escape to the Country” (the British version of House Hunters) I wouldn’t have heard a logging truck, never mind a slab of a tree, arrive.

In my defense, I’d been up early.  I’d gone to the laundromat, the grocery store and Home Depot.  I’d unloaded groceries, baked a couple of cakes and dried the clothes.

I needed a nap.

Banjo Man says he can explain it, so I’ll wait until he gets here to hear “the rest of the story”.  I never know what that man is up to.

Feel free to guess.


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the perils of sitting down

One afternoon last week I was down at the beach.


The floods brought a whole lot of mess and driftwood to our shore.

It actually looks a lot worse than this.  And more wood–of all sizes–shows up every day.  I need Banjo Man and the Funny Grandson to help with this project.

Anyway, I was down at the beach doing some raking and tossing wood into a burn pile when I decided to call Banjo Man and tell him all about it.  I sat down on a log and proceeded to chat until I realized I was sitting on something that didn’t feel like wood.

I’d sat on my sunglasses.  Prescription sunglasses.  Not that the sun was out, but they were tucked in the pocket of my raincoat just in case something bright and yellow broke through the clouds.

That night I tried to glue them, but I have no glue skills.  How I got through elementary school without good glue techniques I’ll never know, but the Gorilla Glue didn’t dry fast enough and was a mess.  I went to the hardware store the next morning and bought Super Glue.  That worked, but there was more smearing and I came dangerously close to gluing three fingers together.

In the end, blue electrical tape was a big help.


But the upside to this was that it forced me to make an eye appointment, something I’d been putting off for, uh, a few years despite knowing I needed new glasses.  And the optometrist of choice, Dr. Julie, had a cancellation the next day.  How lucky was that?  I had to buy three new pairs of glasses, but I was long overdue.

To celebrate I went to Pizza Hut and ordered a little personal pan pizza to take home with me.  And while I was waiting I started reading a wonderful new book, THE LOST HUSBAND, by Katherine Center.

It really was a fantastic afternoon.  Happiness is a slice of pepperoni pizza and a good book.


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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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