barn owl



This stunning picture is from, by Donald Quintana.


This is what I saw flying towards the house as I stared out my office window yesterday morning.  Isn’t he gorgeous?

He flew low, above the driveway and right over the roof of the house.

I searched through owl pictures online until I found him.  In almost thirty years of living here I’d never seen one before.  We have Great Horned owls in our woods and I often hear them (much more often than I see one), but a barn owl?

He is my new favorite bird.

I’ll be watching for him from now on.

In the meantime, it is a windy and rainy Sunday morning.   Banjo Man won’t be raking leaves today.  Instead we’ll be getting ready for Thanksgiving.  I’ll make and freeze the spinach casserole and we’ll peel potatoes and make the huge whipped potato casseroles while watching the Patriots play this afternoon.

We’ll also put the leaf in the dining room table and organize the seating.  We’re not having Thanksgiving at Mom’s this year and will instead have it here.  Last year we moved tables, chairs, dishes, food, turkeys, glasses, silverware and tablecloths to my mother’s house.   My house isn’t as big–meaning I’ll have to get very creative when it comes to seating everyone–but I do have a dishwasher!

And a barn owl.



Beautiful photo from:  Just unbelievably gorgeous.






Posted in family, food, just for fun, rhode island | 2 Comments

the ice cream date

This four year old came over yesterday afternoon.



My friend Sam.

We made ice cream and topped it with mini M&M’s.


I found them at Walmart, in a little tube in the candy display at the register.  If you plan on eating ice cream with a four-old I highly recommend these.

He quickly discovered the new Matchbox cars in the toy basket and played with them for a little while, but his heart was set on ice cream and television.  He wanted to snuggle up on the big couch with my special forty-four-year old tv-watching blanket and relax in front of the big tv.

Banjo Man is the same way, so maybe I have that affect on guys.






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the brakes broke me

I totally lost it yesterday afternoon.

I had a screaming fit in the driveway while Banjo Man leaned on his rake and looked very, very worried.

You see, I was in the midst of dragging the new lightweight transport wheel chair out of the back of the SUV while shrieking that I was going to throw it down the hill and beat it to death on the rocks.

Banjo Man put his rake down and intervened before the destruction began.  I think he said something like, “What the hell happened?”

I had just arrived home after a very intense, very upsetting three hours with said wheel chair, my 91-year old mother and a trip to a urologist’s office (which, by the way, had a broken heating system and was at least 100 degrees).  The hand brakes on the new chair that Banjo Man had nicely assembled for me that morning were so stiff that they were practically unusable.  It took everything I had to operate them, and I had to operate them every time my mother needed to stand up or sit down or get out of the car or get into a car (which was a lot of times, let me tell you).

A concerned onlooker in the office waiting room told me, “Something’s wrong.  It’s not supposed to be that hard.”

Which made me feel better.

And made me want to beat that chair into a metal pulp.  I burst into tears instead, shortly after Banjo Man rescued the chair from destruction.   Then I stomped upstairs to my computer, filled out the return form on Amazon, told Banjo Man not to bother to try to fix it (one of the reviews said the brakes could not be adjusted) and crawled into bed.  Fully clothed.  With a box of Kleenex.

As I wrote on the Amazon return form, you’d have to be an arm wrestling champion or a Navy Seal to operate those brakes.  And I am neither.

It has been a very long week.  I guess something had to snap eventually.

I will have to buy another chair, and soon.  But I’ll think about that tomorrow.

Or maybe Monday.



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

tools of the trade


Meet the Accufeed Flex.  It’s a walking foot on steroids and…I love it.

Well, I love it when I can figure out how to attach it.  That was a mystery at first, until a kind quilter in my online sewing group told me what I was doing wrong.

I did it all wrong on this baby quilt last week.


I am hoping that once it is washed and dried no one will notice the tight quilting seams due to the fact that I didn’t know how to engage the foot.  The foot is designed to glide, from the top and from the bottom, feeding several layers of fabric in perfect harmony.


This Accufeed foot is one of the major reasons why I bought the new machine.  I even ordered special Accufeed feet for it, because I am always in pursuit of the perfect seam, the perfect stitch, the right tension.  Blocks go together when corners match and seams line up.  And if they don’t?  I don’t worry about it.  I figure I gave it my best shot and because I don’t make “show quilts”, no one is going to judge my work.

That’s comforting.  I spent thirty years fretting over book reviews and hoping Romantic Times, etc. would give my latest work 4 or 5 stars and some ecstatic comments.   Sometimes that happened and sometimes it…didn’t.

It’s difficult to create when you wondering what the critics will say, when that devil on your shoulder is whispering words of negativity and doubt.

Making quilts is such a different process.  And when the quilt is finished?  Just like a finished manuscript, it goes on its way.  With my love.

(But it doesn’t come back with revisions from the editor and line edit notes in the margins!)


Posted in quilting, rhode island, writing | Leave a comment



These arrived in the mail yesterday.  Flavored pumpkin seeds from Dancing Mandolin Player!  What a lovely surprise.  I felt so very loved.

And last night my friend Barb called.  “I made you something,” she announced.  “Can I bring it over?”

It was 8:15 PM.  Cold and dark and pouring rain.  But she drove over to bring me a present.



A little apple pie with the best crust in the world.

I couldn’t believe it.  But actually, I could.  Because Barb is like that.  I’ve known her big heart since I was a skinny thirteen-year old.

This has been an incredibly stressful month.  Mom is back at her assisted living home, but requires special care three times a day.  I’m up early and in bed late.  Banjo Man drives me there at 10 PM each night.  He has made friends and joins in on the nightly conversations in the 2nd floor social area while I attend to Mom and get her ready for bed.

I’m really grateful to my friends who have called and emailed and planned dinners out, who have offered future lunches and listened to my frustrations.

My brother and his wife gave me a gift certificate for a long, lovely massage.  I cannot wait.  I’m debating about doing it before Thanksgiving or after.  But I’m looking forward to it, believe me!

My daughter, a skilled nursing assistant, will take over Mom’s care on Thursday.  I am so lucky to have a CNA in the family and it is a relief to know “Grandma” will have the best of care from now on.

Banjo Man had planned an overnight getaway for us this weekend, but it is going to rain.  We were planning to go to Portsmouth, NH and spend a day roaming around the shops and eating seafood and exploring a town we’d never seen.  We are hoping the weather forecast changes so we can get in the car on Saturday morning and take a little time off.

I’ve been cranky and whiny.  Yes, I admit it.

But who can stay grumpy while eating pumpkin seeds and apple pie?

Not me.




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outlander season 3

outlander 3

Banjo Man and I are binging this season of Outlander.  We couldn’t wait for the dvd to go on sale, so we took advantage of a free introductory week of STARZ on Amazon.  Now the challenge is to watch the entire season in one week.

We’re doing our best.

Much of the early episodes in this season take place in Boston in the 1960’s and it is great fun to recognize the clothes and the hairstyles.

And there is quite a bit of steamy sex (don’t say I didn’t warn you).  Jaime and Claire can still get it on, twenty years later.


Posted in television | 2 Comments

a little more chowder chat

Yesterday Glen had a meeting with two of his favorite Rhode Island clients.  The talk turned to George’s and our lunch there.  Do you know what they said?  They’d stopped going to George’s because the clam chowder didn’t taste like clam chowder.


I knew it.

My RI grandmother made clam chowder and it was simple but fussy process.  She finely chopped salt pork, browned it in a large pot with chopped white onions and then added diced potatoes.  She liked her diced potatoes to be small.  She covered them with a little water or clam juice, put them to boil and once they were done added clam or quahog juice and chopped clams or quahogs (usually quahogs) and salt to taste.

Sometimes she cooked the potatoes separately and added them to the clam juice, onions, salt pork and chopped quahogs mixture.

I do not know why.

She made “red” chowder, which uses a combo of tomato juice and clam juice.  It’s known at “Manhattan” chowder in our local restaurants.  The thick creamy white chowder is called “New England” chowder and the plain clam broth (Banjo Man’s favorite) is Rhode Island chowder.

So now you know.



quahogs from




Posted in food, rhode island | 1 Comment

breath of fresh air



Banjo Man in the port of Galilee.

Yesterday my mother was released from the rehab section of the local nursing home and was able to return to her assisted living apartment.  Hallelujah!!!!  We moved her back into her lovely quiet studio apartment and sent her off to see all of her friends at lunch.

I assumed Banjo Man would be in a hurry to get back to work, which is why we’d taken two cars, but he asked me what I was doing for lunch.

Well, I was going to Tony’s Pizza across the street to sit in a back booth and eat a meatball sandwich in total peace and quiet.  I needed to sit in a quiet place and let the dust settle a bit.

“How about lunch in Galilee?  We’ll look at the ocean.”

Yes, Banjo Man!  You’re on!

We felt like we were on vacation, so we attempted to take a selfie.



We need to practice our “selfie” skills.

Lunch was at George’s, a popular restaurant in Galilee from the beginning of time.  The food is acceptable and the view spectacular.  You can’t beat the atmosphere.


Of course we had fish.  So good!  Banjo Man ordered chowder, which tasted of chicken broth instead of clam juice.  Banjo Man liked it.  I was mortified on behalf of all the tourists who would think that RI chowder would taste of chicken broth and not clams.  I even nicely asked the waitress why they put chicken broth in their chowder and she said they didn’t.  Hah!

You can’t fool someone whose New England ancestors have been making clam chowder since the 1700’s.

Have I ever told you that Benjamin Franklin was my great (times 8? 10?) uncle?  He is not a blood relation, but a great uncle by marriage.

And I’ll bet his Nantucket sister-in-law never served him fish chowder made with chicken broth.






Posted in family, food, rhode island | 2 Comments

tin star

There is nothing Banjo Man loves more than a “revenge” movie.  The bloodier the better.

tin star

After watching the first episode of this Amazon mini-series, Banjo Man can’t wait to see what happens next.  The story?  Well, a British cop takes his family to British Columbia and becomes sheriff of a small, isolated town.  The scenery is gorgeous and makes me homesick.  In a good way.

I’m not going to tell you anything else, except to say a lot happens in the first episode.

We are going out for “Taco Tuesday” (where the tacos are $1.00 each) at a local restaurant tonight, so episode 2 will have to wait for tomorrow.  Harley Chick and Hot Rod Russ have organized a trip across the bridges to a budget Mexican extravaganza.

After finishing four seasons (yes, FOUR SEASONS) of “Treme”, one of the best things we’ve ever watched on tv, we are now filling in time before “Longmire” (the final season–sob) begins on November 17.


We can’t wait.  I miss Walt.

In the meantime, “Tin Star” will be a decent substitute, I hope.





Posted in rhode island, television | 2 Comments

car confusion, etc.



Pay no attention to the crumbs.

Banjo Man and I have shared one car, a 2004 Toyota Highlander, for about four or five years now.  About 95% of the time it is not a problem.  And if there is one, we work around it.  Sometimes I used my mother’s car, which needed to be driven at least once a week because the AAA repairman was very tired of coming to her garage to jump the battery.

There were times it was hard to remember to use that old Toyota Camry, so I would park it in my driveway in order to remind myself to drive it.

So what I’m saying is I’ve become a one-car woman.

But…with my mother having been in the hospital and now in rehab in a nursing home, I’m driving EVERY DAY.  Sometimes twice a day.  I. Am. On. The. Road.

Most of the time I use my mother’s Camry, but last week when heading up to the big mall in the city, I drove the Highlander just because I like driving it a lot more than the Camry.  I parked outside the Starbucks entrance to Macy’s and hustled inside to buy Mom some new fleece jackets.  An hour later I was back in the parking lot heading to my car.

But I couldn’t find it.  I knew where I’d parked and I stood there in an increasing state of panic, muttering under my breath, unable to find my car.  It finally dawned on me that I was looking for the Camry and had actually driven the Highlander, which was two cars away from me.

I felt stupid.

That was  Tuesday.  Fast forward to Friday afternoon.  I’d made plans with my mother’s best friend who also lives at Brookdale (the assisted living facility) to pick her up and take her to the nursing home to visit with my mother.  They were both looking forward to it a lot.

I parked near the entrance and went inside, only to find that Mom’s friend wasn’t ready yet.  But she was on her way, they told me.  So I went outside and moved the car to a spot directly in front of the front door so there would be no issues with the walker.  I went back inside, gathered up Dot, got her into the front seat, folded the walker into the back seat and got into the car.  Stuck the key in the ignition and nothing happened.  The steering wheel wouldn’t turn and then it locked.

A nice young man who works at Brookdale came out to help me, but he couldn’t budge it either.  So after finding no answers in the Toyota owners’ manual,  I ended up calling AAA, who said it would be 30 minutes before they could come tow the car.  So I called my daughter, who had the day off, and asked if she would come pick up Dot to take her to see Grandma while I waited for the tow truck.

In the meantime Dot, who was still in good spirits, said she couldn’t understand why the manual didn’t have an answer.  “After all,” she said, “you have the right key.”

I looked down at my hand.  Oh, I had the right key, all right.   The right key to the Highlander. 

I plucked the set of Camry keys from the pocket of my purse and stuck the key into the ignition.  Presto!  The car worked!

Dot was thrilled.  My daughter arrived at the same time and I thanked her and sent her away with my embarrassed explanation.

You see, with Banjo Man’s infuriating tendency to lose car keys (he lost another set in September) I am paranoid about him taking my set of car keys.  So I take them everywhere I go so I know exactly where they are at all times.  I also have a set of keys for my mother’s car, a new back door key (Banjo Man locked himself out of the house last June and had to break down the door and install a new one), my mother’s house key and my mother’s apartment keys (her set and mine, which I keep for emergencies).

That’s a hell of a lot of keys.  The purse I’ve used for three years is suddenly way too small.  And a tote bag is too big.

I will also add that I was suffering from allergies and could barely function.  I’d taken a 2015 Claritin (gratefully found in the recesses of the bathroom closet) and had a box of tissues on the console.

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

The ladies had a lovely visit and I sneaked away for a nap in the car.

I returned Dot to Brookdale, only to discover when I returned home that she had left her own set of keys in the back seat.  We think they popped off the handlebar of her walker when I folded it up.  Banjo Man returned them to her after dinner.  I was in bed before 8 PM.

In order to avoid confusing my pitiful brain, my plan for this week is to only drive the Camry, hide the Highlander keys in my sewing box and buy a bigger purse.

If you have any other cures for a confused brain, please share.






Posted in family, personal female whining, rhode island | 6 Comments