home again and it feels so good

Yes, we are home from the hospital!

The folks at Yale-New Haven Hospital took excellent care of Banjo Man and “Suites” hotel where I stayed was absolutely wonderful.  The security officers who drove people like me back and forth between the hotel and the hospital were retired police officers and so, so nice.

“Nice” is always highly appreciated, especially during times of stress and worry.

There were many moments of kindness, too.  It’s definitely a requirement when it comes to working in that hospital or its affiliates.

Check out the room:

So…back to Banjo Man.  He was pretty wired on the drive home.  I think the pain pills and anesthesia were affecting him.  He kept dozing off and then telling me he’d dreamt I had hit a truck or swerved onto a dirt road.  He ate a chicken salad sandwich and drank two quarts of Gatorade.

Daughter Nancy was waiting for us, but it took some time to get him into bed and settled.  Nancy went to CVS to pick up prescriptions and supplies, while Banjo Man had all sorts of suggestions as to how to make things happen.


We knew he was exhausted and would crash if we could just get him into bed (he wanted to stay downstairs, in his “suite”).  Sure enough, he was asleep minutes after we turned off the lights.  He slept for more than four hours, woke up to take a pill and drink some Gatorade, then slept until 2:30 AM.

More pills, more drinks, a few more suggestions for me <g> and he was back in bed until 7 AM.

So today he is doing very, very well.  The visiting nurse came this morning.  She had advice and suggestions and warnings and encouragement for us.

Yes, there is pain.  Yes, it will end.  Yes, it will take some time.  We all know the drill, right?

I have made chicken soup, tapioca pudding and hard-boiled eggs.  I have baked sweet potatoes.  The key word is “bland”.  And in small servings.

Alas, Banjo Man is not a “small serving” kind of guy.

But we’re working on that, too.

No, no, no!!!!

Posted in family, rhode island, the cancer fight | 5 Comments

banjo man is doing well

The operation went off without a hitch and without any surprises. The doctor was pleased and saw no obviously cancerous lymph nodes.

He was taken to the operating room at 7:30 and returned to the recovery room at 1:30.

By 2:30 he was settled in his room, propped up against pillows and sipping ice water.

An hour later he was in a recliner, blankets tucked around him, checking the stock market on his cell phone while I ordered broth and Jello for his dinner.

The nurses cannot believe it.

Recovery time is usually 3-4 weeks. Radiation, if needed, wouldn’t happen for at least six months.

I left him to his dinner at 6 and called for a shuttle back to the hotel. This place was built for patients and families and it is heaven. By 7:30 I was eating Chinese takeout (delivered to the door) and by 9 had crashed.

I slept for nine hours. I hope Banjo Man did, too. He’ll call me when he wakes up and let me know how he’s feeling. I’m going to pack up the car and check out before taking the shuttle to the hospital. We’ll head home this afternoon if permitted.

There was a storm here overnight and I am happy to wait until most of it has blown across Connecticut before we set out.

Thanks for all the well wishes, thoughts and prayers. I believe we felt them all.

Posted in family, rhode island, the cancer fight | 6 Comments

getting ready on easter 2022

First of all, let me wish you a Happy Easter.  I hope there is chocolate.  Ham.  Beans.  Pie.  Jelly beans!

And a lovely new pair of white ankle socks with lace around the cuff (if you were a child of the ’50’s you might know what I’m talking about).

We are getting ready to head to New Haven for Banjo Man’s surgery tomorrow.  We’re staying in a hotel near the hospital which caters to patients and families, so there is a small kitchen and all the amenities.  If all goes well, we will be returning home on Tuesday.

For the last three days I’ve been cooking instead of sewing.  I’m bringing my own food and coffeemaker and coffee pods.  I’ve been making and freezing meals for next week, when Banjo Man is recovering.  Keeping busy keeps me–mostly–from total panic.

We have to be at the hospital at 6AM.  I suspect surgery will be at least an hour or two after that and will last at least two hours.

I will be in touch as soon as I can on Monday.  I will either blog, text, email or call with updates.

In honor of Easter, I wanted to share a “Pet of the Week” column I wrote in 2006.  I volunteered to write a weekly article featuring a pet looking for a home for over eight years.  It was the best job I ever had.  When the paper drastically downsized and cut my column, I cried buckets.  It was a popular feature all over the state and it worked.

So here we go:

Looking for a bunny to love and to hold?  Here’s snuggly Bun Bun for you to take home.

Yes, I’m a rabbit.  I know you’re accustomed to reading about dogs and cats (and that one ferret who managed to have his own article last year), but this week I, a female Rhinelander bunny of phenomenal fur and exquisite rabbit roundness, am in the spotlight at last.  My name is Bun Bun, and yes, I know, it rhymes with “fun fun” and “run run”.  In my spare time–and I have lots of it–I make up little poems about myself.*

Did you know February is National Adopt A Bunny Month?  Well, you humans learn something new every day, don’t you?  We rabbits are number three on the Most Abandoned Animals list.  You don’t see herds of homeless domestic bunnies roaming through the streets of towns, blocking traffic, rampaging through gardens and creating hare havoc because we freeze to death or end up as coyote snack food, among other sad endings.

My own story is a happier one.  I was discovered eating dandelions in someone’s backyard last October and subsequently brought to the shelter.  It’s lovely here, but I’d love my own little house in which to hop.  I’m an indoor bunny, not meant to shiver in a hutch outside.  I love my cardboard box.  I sit in it, chew it, drag it around and hide inside of it.  Typical bunny play, but oh, so much fun!  I love kale and Cheerios and carrots, of course, and I thrive on rabbit pellets and hay.

I’m also trained to use my litter box, which should tempt you to take me home.  I’m a lovely hopper and I don’t mind living with cats.  I have no nasty habits and can be snuggly when I know you, and I do love to be petted.

You might think I look like the Easter Bunny, by my lips are sealed in regards to past occupations.  Bunnies who serve on the egg-delivery circuit are held to a strict code of silence about their good deeds and holiday hops, but I will only hint that the scent of chocolate brings back lovely memories.

I hope someone out there wants a bunny to love.  My adoption fee is $15, which includes my cage, hay and food…

*Bun Bun was adopted by someone who came to the shelter requesting “the bunny that wrote poetry”.

Posted in family, just for fun, Pet of the Week, rhode island, the cancer fight | 1 Comment

it’s finished!

And so a two-year saga comes to an end.  Water damage from (a) outside storm pipes not draining properly and (b) the upstairs neighbor’s leaking pipe led to the destruction of walls, the floor and two cabinets in our little Austin condo.

This occurred before Austin’s famous Big Freeze of 2021, after which it took many months to find a contractor who had the time and inclination to take on the small job.

Will tore up all the flooring and replaced the drywall.  He and I picked out tile last October and a new floor was installed throughout the entire 640 square feet of living space.

Finding a contractor and having that contractor return my calls was a challenge.  After three months I finally texted the head of the company and asked him to assign another project manager, one who didn’t lie, didn’t blame others, and actually responded to texts and emails.  He did so–promptly.

Which I appreciated.



And check this out!  I had pull-out shelves installed so we wouldn’t have to get on our hands and knees to see what was in the back of the cabinets.

I am seriously in love.


Posted in austin, texas | 5 Comments

little again

Good morning.

Son Will texted this song to me yesterday.  I wanted to share.  It seemed especially poignant this week, as the walls close in and we worry about the upcoming surgery and the road ahead.

There are times when I wish I was nine again watching my father carefully tighten the laces on my ice skates.  A simple winter Saturday.

What about you?

Posted in family | Leave a comment

fugitive on the loose

There’s nothing like a police chase to make for an interesting day.

Banjo Man says that makes me sound crazy.  I’m sorry if it does, BUT I am tired of cleaning, of sewing, of cooking, of British history, of worrying about Covid and cancer and construction schedules.  Not in that order.

So I ask you, if a huge police event was happening in your neighborhood, would you want to watch?

Or have I lost my mind, as my poor husband fears?

As we stayed tucked away in our house yesterday afternoon (day 10 of our personal lockdown), all sorts of things were happening in The Outside World.  Namely, a man in Massachusetts had burned his house down, fled the police after taking a few shots at them and, brandishing a weapon, headed towards RI in his Toyota truck.

This wouldn’t have gotten my attention, except for the fact that, according to local radio news, he was now–hours later– driving towards my town.

And as he headed south (at the speed limit, by the way) across the state, over the Newport bridge and back, cruising on to Route 1, he was followed by an increasing number of police vehicles.  I heard all about it on the radio and then–lo and behold–heard the parade of police sirens as they streamed past us on the highway.

A Boston tv station broadcast the live stream from a helicopter, so my afternoon was spent ironing quilt blocks while watching a white truck navigate familiar roads.  He drove past Walmart, went into downtown Westerly, passed my YMCA, took some back roads and then ended up heading towards I-95 on the 78 Bypass.  I couldn’t believe what I was watching.  And then, rear ended by a police car, went into a bit of a spin and landed gently–in slow motion–against a tree in a wooded area just over the Connecticut line.

Even more time was spent waiting for the guy to get out of his truck.  I think there were twenty SWAT team guys surrounding him. The shirtless driver continued to hang out the driver’s window and yell at the police.  It looked like he was drinking a beer and holding a pistol, but the video was a bit fuzzy.

The standoff took a while, like a scene from an action movie.  The helicopter hovered.  The police shot pepper spray from their rifles.  An armored truck edged closer to the truck’s tailgate.

Nothing like this had ever happened before in our little rural part of Rhode Island.  

Fortunately no one was hurt, the “fugitive” was eventually hauled out of the truck through the window.  He was handcuffed, given water, and then an EMT saw to the cuts on his forehead.  He was treated kindly.

I’m glad I’m not a policewoman.  And on a SWAT team.  I don’t know how they participate in a day-long car chase and a 90-minute standoff without having to go to the bathroom.

I wouldn’t have minded being in the helicopter, though.  Or operating a drone from two miles away.

We all have our little fantasies. 

So today I am drinking coffee and looking at quilt blocks and planning to get gas in the car and check the air in the tires.  I am contemplating baking a cranberry cake to take with us to the New Haven hotel.

In other words, back to normal.  And that’s just fine, too.












Posted in rhode island | 1 Comment

hunting tapioca

Have you made tapioca pudding lately?  If so, where did you find the box of Kraft tapioca (aside from the back of a shelf in your kitchen)?

Hint:  nowhere.

Two weeks ago I desperately needed tapioca.  My friend Harley Chick was recovering from very serious emergency surgery while on vacation in her motorhome.  She and Hot Rod Russ had been heading to Florida, but on day three of the trip she ended up in a hospital in North Carolina.  She would be travelling home in a few days and, because she could only eat soft foods, I had the bright idea to make her a vat of tapioca pudding because she’d been living on mashed potatoes and pureed carrots.

This woman desperately needs pudding.

I hadn’t made tapioca pudding in about thirty years, if ever, so off I went to Walmart for the first time in a month.

I couldn’t find tapioca.  After roaming up and down several aisles, I looked it up on my phone.  My Walmart site told me what aisle it was in (the baking aisle) and that they had eight boxes.

They lied.  I had already spent long minutes roaming up and down that aisle.  Lucky for me, the store was practically deserted so I could take my time and study every shelf.

So I ended up doing what everyone does when desperate:  I went home and ordered it on Amazon.

Did you know that “large pearl” tapioca is a big deal and an ingredient for something called “bubble tea”?  I didn’t.  There are many flavors of this, but I ordered my box of Kraft Minute Tapioca and all was right with the world.

Two days later, as Harley Chick’s motor home was chugging into Rhode Island, I was ready to create.  This had to be non-dairy, so of course I went on Pinterest and found a recipe for Vegan Tapioca Pudding using almond milk.

It was quite a process, and in the end it tasted like glue.  It wasn’t the almond milk’s fault, though.  Honest.

I tried again, this time using a recipe recommended by friend whose mother made it this way.  On the back of the box there’s a recipe called “Fluffy Tapioca” which basically involves beating egg whites and boiling everything else.

It turned out okay.   And worthy of Harley Chick.  But it wasn’t the creamy pudding I remembered from childhood.

Harley Chick said it was delicious, but she is a sweet, kind soul who would never say anything negative about a gift.

A few days later I noticed there was another recipe, this time on the side of the box.  It was very, very simple and I couldn’t resist trying it.  Banjo Man might find it to be the perfect snack while he was recovering from his own surgery.

We both liked it enough to eat the whole pan.

And now I was out of tapioca again, so I returned to Amazon–the place from where all things come–and ordered a bag of Bob’s Red Mill tapioca pearls.  Bob has a recipe on his package, too.  Do I dare try it?

Version #4 coming next week, when Banjo Man is home from the hospital and needs comfort food.

If you have The Perfect Tapioca Pudding Recipe and want to share, please do.  Harley Chick is on the mend, but I’m going to make her another batch to see if I can get it right.

Wish me luck.








Posted in family, food, friends, rhode island | 1 Comment

if i had a dog

From agilejack1.com

Yes, if I had a dog I would teach him to carry fabric on his head.  And then I would laugh and laugh and give him smelly bacon treats.

And then I would cut up those fabrics and put them in a quilt.  Four of the six fabrics on this pup’s head are the same as in the quilt below.  I used lots of wild florals for snowball blocks, as you can see.

My design screen came in very handy.

And today, after a couple of thousand hours of machine quilting (yes, I’m exaggerating, but lots of things went wrong in the process and it felt like I’d spent a long month in front of the machine), it is ready for hand-stitching.

My fancy, complicated, expensive sewing machine is a joy in so many ways, but when it comes to free motion quilting the thing balks and acts like it never saw thread before in its life.

There are good days and bad days.

I am not inexperienced when it comes to free motion quilting.  I’ve taken classes.  I took a four-hour class from Karen McTavish, for God’s sake!  And I aced it.  But my machine and I have a long way to go before we can “McTavish” together.

She is so cool she even has quilting feather tattoos.

Here’s an example of her quilting:

I like to swirl, too.  My machine is not a fan of swirling, though.  And I can’t figure out why not.

So…while we are quarantining this week I am determined to spend some time solving this problem.  I need new glasses, so the stitching won’t be as small as I’d like, but there must be a way to glide and swirl and create lovely patterns again.

If that doesn’t work, I’ll balance fabric on my head and drink tequila.



Posted in quilting, rhode island | 1 Comment

what’s streaming on the big tv

HBO Max:  Somebody Somewhere, described as a “dark comedy” about a woman in Kansas finding her voice and finding a community while dealing with grief.

I am not making this sound like the wonderful show it is.  The characters are a joy and I loved them all.  Well, except for the mother.  It is raunchy and there is a lot of swearing, so beware.

The phrase “dark comedy” always turns me off.  But we were desperate for something to watch last week and there it was and Banjo Man said what’s that and I clicked on it and we were hooked.

HBO Max:  The Gilded Age.  Written by Julian Fellowes (of Downton Abbey fame), it chronicles New York during the time of the Gilded Age, with the Astors, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts running the show.  It starts out slowly, but the acting improved and the plots were fun.  I was absolutely entertained by seeing locations from Newport, especially from the Breakers, the Vanderbilt estate.  It was lovely to see the tennis courts on Bellevue Avenue, the staircases and the ballrooms of the mansions.  I’ve toured these homes many, many times and never get tired of taking people to see them.  I’ve been known to go by myself, just for fun.

Oh–and the costumes on this show are gorgeous!

Netflix:  Rescued by Ruby.  This based-on-a-true-story-in-Rhode-Island film is definitely one for everyone in the family.  It’s a sweet story of a rescue dog who was herself rescued from a shelter and trained to be a search & rescue dog with the RI State Police K-9 program.  There have been a number of interviews on local radio with the “real” people of the story and the story is actually pretty accurate.  The characters are true to life.  There is a documentary, which was what the movie was based upon.  Ruby is still working in the K-9 Unit with her handler Daniel O’Neill.

Netflix:  After Life.  A Ricky Gervais creation, it’s a three-season series about a man grieving for his wife and trying to cope.  Another “dark comedy”, it’s one I avoided for a few years due to the wife dying of breast cancer and who needs that?  But once again the characters are brilliant and we love this show so much we binged an entire season Saturday night.

Netflix:  Power of the Dog.  Saving the worst for last, we think this is one to avoid.  We may have lasted for ten or fifteen minutes before switching it off, as the main character was so awful and the setting was so grim we just didn’t want this in our living room for another couple of hours.

Netflix’s description: “A domineering rancher responds with mocking cruelty when his brother brings home a new wife and her son, until the unexpected comes to pass.”

I read a ton of reviews on the film.  I wondered if we were the only two people on the planet who didn’t “get” it.  Had we watched so much “Seaside Hotel” and so many Danish police dramas that we couldn’t appreciate the beauty and genius of a grim Western?

The reviews I read were definitely mixed, with more people hating the film than those defending it.  But the ones who loved it really, really loved it.  One particular reviewer wrote that “only elite Netflix viewers” would appreciate the genius of this “homo-erotic thriller”.


I am definitely not an elite Netflix viewer.

Banjo Man and I don’t settle ourselves on the couch, malted milk balls and popcorn at the ready, and say, “Gee, I can’t wait to watch a new homo-erotic thriller tonight.  Pass the remote over here and let’s see what we can find!”

If you’ve seen it and loved it, please let me know why.  

So that’s it from the living room.  I’ve started adding shows to my Watchlist in anticipation of Banjo Man’s post-surgery recovery period.  Suggestions are welcome!



Posted in a more pie opinion, movies, rhode island, television | 4 Comments

before, during and after

Here’s a picture of The Tree a few winters ago.

Then there was this, as I’m sure you remember from my many posts whining about it:

Two weeks ago, before the crew came to remove the branches, one by one.  There was a bucket truck, a crew of three and several chainsaws.

The result?

Ugly, huh?  See the pile of wood?  Friends are coming today to take it for their wood burning stove.

We are glad we know someone with a wood stove.

When the wood is gone, the tree crew will return and take down the rest of the tree.  Which means a lot more wood for a stove, just in case the winter of 2023 is a tough one.

We’ll miss the shade of The Tree.  We’ll miss watching the owl who liked to sit on its lower branch and look for breakfast.

But I won’t miss the dumpster.

Posted in rhode island | Leave a comment