oh happy day

Today I am 65.  I find that so exciting, due to now qualifying for Medicare.

I cannot tell you how happy that makes me, which also makes me an old lady, because only old people are excited about getting Medicare.

It’s how we roll.

If you are under 65, feel free to roll your eyes.  If  you are over 65, you know what I’m talking about.

Life is good.

Here’s where we’re going for dinner tonight.  This is a copy of an old menu.


Originally a speakeasy, it was recently restored.  I remember my grandparents taking us here once every summer for fish ‘n chips.  The highlight of the dinner was a choice of parfait for dessert.

I have loved parfaits ever since.

Banjo Man and I are getting ready to take off to New Orleans.  He begged to go down there before we went to Texas, so I was able to rearrange our flights and take advantage of the holiday specials in the French Quarter.  “Papa Noel” time in the French Quarter means special room rates and incredible savings on Reveillon dinners.  We used to take a little mid-December trip to “N’awlins” before Katrina.  And we went once the year after Katrina.  But not since.

We are very excited.

If you’d like to know more about December in the French Quarter, here’s the link:


I think we’re going to eat our way around the city.  And I’m hoping some time in the World War II museum, if I can tear Banjo Man away the restaurants.  Our hotel is right across the street from Banjo Man’s favorite jazz bar, Fritzel’s, which is convenient.  And we have tickets for Preservation Hall.

Let the good times roll!




Posted in family, music, rhode island, travel | 1 Comment

off line

Monday night we lost our internet, our two landlines and our tv connection.  We’re hooked up to Verizon Fios and have been for years.  We love it and have never had a bit of trouble with the service.

But it all came to a screeching halt at 8:30 pm.

A call to Verizon led to a young woman (possibly overseas) talking us through the troubleshooting of the equipment.  Two hours later, in the workroom of the basement while standing on a pallet of leftover roof shingles, Banjo Man lost patience.  He shone his flashlight on one of three opened Verizon panels and once again told the woman that he did not see a white cord inside the medium-sized box to unplug.  They had had this discussion for close to twenty minutes, if not more.

The cord was red.  It was not in her script.

She said a technician could be at our home on…Friday.

Banjo Man, who runs his business here at the house, cannot possibly be out of touch with clients and the internet for a few hours, never mind four days, so he explained–quite forcefully– someone had to fix it Tuesday morning.

To get rid of him, she said someone from Verizon would call us Tuesday morning.  He believed her; I didn’t.  We staggered off to bed.

The next morning I called Verizon and through an automated phone call learned we were scheduled for a repair at 2 pm (this was later discovered to be untrue, but that’s not the point of this story).

So, my life without television, phones and internet????

Television?  No problem.  I don’t watch it until after 5 pm, at the earliest.  Most of the time we watch something on Netflix.   I’m a radio gal and I have a favorite local radio station and three radios perched around the house.  (Banjo Man has Fox Business News on his downstairs tv all day long).

Phones?  No problem there either, not for me.  I’m rarely ever on the phone.  Yesterday I made sure I had my cell phone with me (most of the time I forget where it is) and was waiting for a call from the furniture delivery men who were to deliver Mom’s new loveseat, corner tv stand and new recliner that day (Banjo Man has his business line and takes frequent calls).

Internet?  Uh-oh.

This is where I took it in the gut.

It turns out I obviously “waste” a lot of time with emails, blogs, news, etc.  It was very strange not having access to all of those things that make me feel like I’m connected to the world.

So instead I cleaned out a big closet, sorted my winter and summer clothes, did three loads of laundry, cleaned out shelves, loaded a bag of stuff for charity, cleaned the kitchen, cleaned my bathroom, took a shower, found my electric blanket and put it on the bed, traded summer quilts for winter quilts, burned a couple of cd’s, tuned my new dobro and finished cutting the weirdly shaped pieces for the new Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt…..all before 11:30 AM.

I’d also walked over to my mother’s old house in order to help Banjo Man get on the internet over there–which didn’t work.

In other words, I accomplished a lot without the lure of the internet calling me to sit down at my desk and read a lot of entertaining stuff.

It was a revelation.  I told Banjo Man I think I will go “Verizon Free” at least one day a week from now on, just to see how many closets I can clean.  I don’t think my world will come to an end without access to the internet.  It was annoying, but certainly not torture.

The furniture guys called at 11:30, which gave me time to drive over to my mother’s apartment for a  noon delivery (it all looked wonderful!!), then back to the house to make another automated Verizon call only to learn we were once again scheduled for repair on FRIDAY.

Banjo Man flipped out.  A technician was here within thirty minutes of his next impressive tirade.  Turns out that a power outage Monday at noon (we were only out of power for 20 minutes) had somehow burned out a lot of Verizon boxes in our area.  All of our wires were fried.

By 5 PM we had it all back, except for my cable box in the bedroom (which I discovered wasn’t working at 9:30 last night).  Since I rarely use my television there I’m going to save that repair call for January.  It’s just not important enough to make one of those long phone calls right now.

So this morning here I am, coffee mug on the desk next to the keyboard, radio on, as I’m writing the blog.  I’ve read the news and the other blogs I love to follow.  I’ve checked email (nothing but ads and coupons!) and very soon I’ll head to town to do a bunch of heading-to-Texas-for-Christmas errands.  Somehow two hours have passed since I first sat down.

Oh, dear.  It sucked me in again.

What do you do when you lose your internet??  Television???  Does it change your life or is it barely noticed????  Would you miss your phone?  Or does your cell phone fill the gap?




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cod chowder

If you want something very simple for dinner on a cold night, here’s the recipe for last week’s chowder.  I made it up as I went along, so feel free to change what you want!

2/3 of a 5 lb. bag of red potatoes, unpeeled and chopped into cubes.   Save the remaining 1/3 of the bag for later.

1 onion, chopped and sautéed in butter or bacon grease (I used butter)

5 pieces of bacon, cooked until crisp and then chopped (I had some cooked and in the freezer)

2 lb. cod (3 large pieces)

2 cups half and half (you could use milk or cream)

optional:  fish boullion cubes

Seasonings:  salt, white pepper, dill

Put the cubed potatoes and 1/2 tsp salt in a large 7 quart slow cooker and add water just enough to cover.  Put on high and cook for several hours until potatoes are cooked.  You can also do this on the stove if you are short for time.  I had all day so I didn’t care!

Add sautéed onions and bacon.  Fish boullion, too, if you have it.  I used one large cube.

An hour before serving, turn heat to low and lay the large pieces of cod into the pot.  Once cooked (it won’t take long) gently stir in the half and half and add more salt and seasonings to taste.  I like white pepper in the stew, but I also use black pepper once I serve it in bowls.

I like thick soups, so I cut up the remaining 1/3 of a bag of red potatoes and cut them in quarters and, in a separate pan on the stove, boiled them in water until they were cooked.  Then I mashed them and stirred them into the stew.  I also had a cup of mashed potatoes leftover from Thanksgiving, so I stirred that in, too!  Another trick is to sprinkle instant mashed potato flakes into any soup or stew if you want the broth a little thicker.



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big thanks to big store


Yesterday Mom and I went shopping for furniture.  Picture a 90-year old woman with a cane making her way amidst a vast furniture store.

Not easy.

We had previously purchased a recliner from the same store, Raymour & Flanigan, several weeks ago but it had proved to be very uncomfortable and my mother regretted the purchase.  We hoped they would take it back (yes, a longshot, but worth the question) and we could find a replacement.

We also needed a small corner tv stand and a soft, comfy off-white loveseat.  I’d been searching unsuccessfully for deals and bargains online for weeks, but at this point we were beyond worrying about sticking to a budget.  Desperation and a time limit had our backs to the wall.  The goal:  buy whatever works and to hell with the price.

Unfortunately a manager said they couldn’t take back the chair.  It had been too long (we had purchased the chair two weeks before Mom moved into her new apartment at assisted living).  That was disappointing, but expected.  As I’d said to my mother in the parking lot, “It doesn’t hurt to ask.”

The manager, who seemed sincerely sorry to not be able to help, insisted on getting a wheelchair for Mom so we could look around, so we searched for an entertainment center amid the maze of furniture.

Our saleswoman, Donna, was one of the nicest salespeople I’ve ever met.  She showed us the perfect tv stand at a much lower price than we’d planned on.  HURRAY!  SOLD!  While I was buying it, Donna heard my mother’s sad chair story and made some calls, eventually resulting in the store offering to take back the chair and replace it with another one.  She showed Mom the recliner they were offering to give her and it was definitely soft, a warm cinnamon color with the power lift feature.


Another manager arranged for the old chair to be inspected by the delivery crew.  They gave Mom discounts.  They wanted her to be a satisfied customer and were willing to jump through a lot of hoops.  While all of this was going on, I wheeled my mother around to look at loveseats.  And–lo and behold–we found the perfect one.


More paperwork!  More help!  Everything was done to make the delivery happen on Tuesday.  Donna hugged me.  I wanted to cry.  Everyone was so insistent on helping us and making sure my mother would be happy.

In the past few weeks I’ve had a lot of experiences with various businesses as I’ve moved my mother from her home to a new lifestyle.  I’ve spent hours–many, many hours–dealing with companies who either make things very difficult or flat out give me wrong information, send incompetent workers, leave me on hold for hours, etc.  Once in a while there is a bright and shining star on the other end of the phone who actually helps me.

I confess that such kindness has been so shocking and unexpected that I have burst into tears, and I am not a burst-into-tears kind of person.  It has been more than a little embarrassing.

So thank you, Donna, and the folks at Raymour & Flanigan, for making yesterday afternoon’s shopping trip such a success.

It was greatly appreciated.

I’m vowing to speak out more about bad customer service.  And I’m also going to make sure–with a letter, email or phone call–to contact employers and corporate headquarters to compliment those employees who go the extra mile and make life a little easier.

It’s a two way street, and I’m going to do my part from now on.


Posted in family, rhode island, shopping | 2 Comments

that time of year


It’s time to finish sewing Christmas pillowcases for two little boys I know!  Thank goodness they are easy to make because I have been really, really busy.

Lately I’ve found it hard to get out of bed in the morning.  Which is not like me at all.

I could blame the colder weather.  Or pure laziness.  But I suspect it’s an age thing.  After all, I turn 65 next week.

I’m thrilled to be 65.  Just think how much I’ll save on health insurance!

Happy dance!!!!

Can you believe it is the first of December?????  I don’t know where November went.  Rhode Island has been unseasonably warm, so I hope that means we’re in for a mild winter.

We would love a mild winter.  I’m not as fond of snow as I used to be.  Raise your hand if you feel the same way!!!!

Today, despite the rain and the wind, my mother and I are going furniture shopping.  We’re turning her new apartment into a cozy, elegant, welcoming space.  This has been quite a process so far, so wish us luck.  Hunting down the perfect loveseat and corner tv stand could be a challenge, but we’re determined to finish before the holidays.

My friend of 52 years has retired and moved back to Rhode Island, right down the street from me in our tiny rural community.  She and her husband are remodeling her grandmother’s old farmhouse, so yesterday Barb arrived with paint chips and assorted counter, floor and cabinet samples.  Our mission:  to find the perfect color wall paint.

We’ve come a long way from 1964.  Neither one of us suggested jumping on her horses and riding bareback down to the ocean.  She didn’t offer to iron my hair so I’d look like Cher.  We didn’t discuss Forever Amber (our first historical romance and the topic of one of our first conversations together), play Roy Orbison or study any Ian Fleming books for the sex scenes.

We did laugh and giggle, though.  She left with “paint chip clarity” (is there such a thing?), a container of my fish chowder (she and her husband are camping out with a hot plate in their future dining room) and a gold velvet pumpkin.

Fish chowder recipe tomorrow…





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poor banjo man needs a shave



From freesignprinter.com


Banjo Man had a humiliating experience at the grocery store last Saturday.  You all know how much he loves to go to the supermarket.  Most Saturdays he loads up the garbage, takes it to the town dump and then–sales flyers in hand–visits as many as four different grocery stores to take advantage of bargains and load up on healthy food (his latest obsession is organic cabbage–do not ask me why).

I should back up a bit.  About two months ago I instituted a new household plan:  paying for everything with cash.  I thought it would be an interesting experiment that would result in no credit card bills (we were previously using an airline credit card and racking up points for free tickets) and spending less on impulse purchases.  I also thought of it as going “off grid” with spending, protecting ourselves from an internet crash, which probably makes no sense, but as I said…this was an experiment.

And we were both enjoying it.  Except for buying gas, that is.  I am trying to get the hang of prepaying for gas, but I have to confess I have used “the card” once instead of making that trip into the gas station on a rainy day.

The day before Thanksgiving I got an email from our credit card company asking if I had charged a tank of gas in Minnesota.


I immediately responded to the email and had our card frozen.  I forgot to tell Banjo Man.  On Saturday morning, while my husband was loading up the garbage, I was on the phone with the credit card company going through a list of charges that weren’t mine.

We  have no idea how the card was hacked, but such is life in 2016.

Banjo Man had told me he was only going to buy three things at the store, due to the fact that we had a refrigerator full of leftovers and one rotting organic cabbage.

I gave no thought to how much cash he had in his wallet.  In fact, I took a nap.

When he came home he was wild-eyed.  The credit card didn’t work!  The credit card didn’t work!!!

Me:  Uh-oh.  It was hacked.  And cancelled.  I forgot to tell you.  And then:  Why were you using it?

Turns out he thought there was a sale on oranges (which was unfortunately last week’s sale, which threw off Banjo Man’s calculations of how much he could buy with the cash he had on hand) and he needed a few other important items.  But when it all added up, there at the register, he was $1.88 short.

Because of the oranges.

So he whipped out that dusty credit card only to discover it no longer worked its magic.

The woman in line behind him offered to pay the difference, but Banjo Man had the oranges removed from his bag.  The woman insisted two more times and seemed very sympathetic.  Banjo Man was perplexed, he told me.  Why did she look so sorry for him?

Look in the mirror, I said.  Banjo Man prides himself on good grooming and being nicely dressed.  He irons his clothes, delighting in neat creases and lightly starched colors.  He is fussy about his shirts.  He loves his ties.  He always looks professional.

Except on Saturdays, when he goes to the dump.

And then, obviously, his unshaven, old-man-clothed-self looks like someone with no money.  Someone who spends a lot of time at the local dump.

Someone who can’t afford to pay full price for oranges.




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special guests at thanksgiving

Alas, I did not take pictures of our Thanksgiving this year.

I really regret that.  I brought my camera, had it set out on the hutch in plain sight, but I was simply too busy and having too much fun.

We had a younger generation with us this year, the three lovely daughters of Mark and Wendy.  Before he graduated from college and moved away to work for an engineering firm, Mark spent all of his Thanksgivings at my parents’ house.  This year he brought his wife and children (middle school, high school and college) from Minnesota to Rhode Island so the girls could enjoy his memories.


There were twelve of us around the dining room tables.  Banjo Man and I brought folding tables and our dining room chairs (which are really office chairs because we still haven’t found chairs we like at the furniture stores) and the silverware and the linens and the pumpkins and pies and the food.  My 90-year old mother didn’t have to lift a finger!  Which is the way it should be.  Mayme and George brought yummy appetizers, wine and sweet potatoes.  Ginny and Ken once again wowed us with homemade gourmet desserts.

And there were four generations around the table!  What could be better than that?  We talked and laughed and told stories, ate lots of turkey and stuffed ourselves with desserts.

Velvet pumpkins were given as mementos of the day.  I know they’ll like their new homes.

It was a Thanksgiving to remember.  I’m so grateful to everyone who made it possible.




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ready for a turkey

Another Thanksgiving at “Grandma’s house”!

Banjo Man and  I spent yesterday setting up tables, transporting chairs, cooking, and cleaning .  This morning we put the 22 pound turkey in the oven at 7:30 before we set the tables.

The velvet pumpkins begged to be included.


Now it’s time to get dressed, pick up Grandma and chill the wine.  In a few hours our friends will gather around the table and celebrate being together for another Thanksgiving meal.

I’m grateful for that.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!


Posted in family, food, friends, rhode island | 4 Comments

seafood by the sea

Last Thursday Banjo Man had a brilliant idea and unusual idea:  to go out to lunch.  Not only would we go out to lunch, but we would go to the Matunuck Oyster Bar just a few miles away.

Check it out if you want to know more about harvesting oysters and Perry Raso’s business:  http://www.rhodyoysters.com/

It’s owned by one of Will’s friends and has been a tremendous success.  In fact, we hoped that a November afternoon would be one of those times when we wouldn’t have to wait hours for a table!

Banjo Man wore the appropriate shirt:


We had a table by the water.  The picture is a bit foggy, due to the plastic “wall” between us and the fresh air.


The guys are sorting and harvesting oysters on the saltwater pond.

Here’s Banjo Man’s fried oyster po’ boy:


And here’s my lobster roll:


We’ve had unseasonably warm weather for November, so it was a beautiful day to sit by the water and enjoy lunch.  We vowed to do it more often, but I have a feeling that once the weather turns cold and grim we’ll be holed up at home until spring.


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the patch


It’s rare that I see one of my creative obsessions so blatantly displayed for Banjo Man and I to see.

The word insane comes to mind.

My artistic and crafty and quilting obsessions have always had the potential to get out of hand, but I think I have outdone myself this autumn.

Banjo Man, a finally-wise husband with 46 years experience with my projects, has NOT asked, “What are you going to do with them?” or “Don’t you have enough?”

(The answers:  I don’t know and No.)

I think these pumpkins called to me because each one was different–in size and color and stem.

The stems were dried in the oven, sanded and sprayed with varnish.

I discovered that Crazy Glue–the gel version–worked the best and the expensive, smooth velvet was prettier than the crushed versions.  I used 1/3 plastic beads and 2/3 polyfill batting for stuffing.  They were stitched together–while watching “The Crown” on Netflix—using long doll needles.

Some lucky pumpkins will grace our Thanksgiving table Thursday afternoon.  Others will blend with the glittery metal trees on the fireplace mantel for the holidays.

Banjo Man has claimed a gold one for his own.

Every time we look at them all together on the dining room table we start laughing.


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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