a little makeover in covid prison

I have a very ugly bathroom.  It has always been ugly, actually.  The kids painted it brown for me about twenty years ago.  I thought it would look elegant with white trim and hide the ugly wood-trimmed medicine cabinet and lighting fixture.

It didn’t look elegant.

Holes have been spackled and now it’s time to remove the light fixture and medicine cabinet.

Four weeks ago I asked Banjo Man if he would paint one wall for me (I was always the painter in the family but can no longer do such a thing, which irks me no end) so I could get a mirror and a new light.

We had lots of ivory paint leftover from the kitchen remodel, so all he had to do was haul the giant bucket upstairs and stir the paint for an hour or two (just kidding).

He ended up painting two walls with three coats of paint.

First coat on!

And he painted the cabinet doors.

And then my hero decided to paint the whole damn bathroom, which was an excellent decision.

I bought a curved shower rod, which was a nightmare to install.

I bought a towel holder that was also a nightmare to install and was returned to Amazon, along with a scathing review.

Purchase at your own risk.

As Banjo Man stepped out of his shed (after a search for screws for the shower rod) last Sunday afternoon he came within seconds of being hit by an Amazon delivery truck.  The sound of screeching brakes still gives me the shivers.

I spent an entire morning reading about toilet paper holders.  Did you know there are approximately seven different designs?

Here’s the winner, which I love:

I don’t take my cell phone into the bathroom (so I don’t need that shelf), but I really, really loved the double roll design.  It must have been easy to install, because I heard no bad words coming from the bathroom whilst my husband was completing the task yesterday.

The 36″ square mirror weighed a lot.  So Banjo Man built a shelf for it to rest upon.  I have always wanted a shelf so my joy knew no bounds.  I couldn’t believe we hung the monster mirror without breaking it.

Oh, the joy!

I think I’m going to decorate with navy blue, but I’m not sure.  I’ve been to Home Goods and TJ Maxx, but their hand towel selections are almost all white or gray.  I don’t care for gray, ever.  And I’m tired of white.  But I’m in no hurry to decide.

Here’s the just-about-finished photo.  It’s not up to Pinterest standards, but it’s a huge improvement and I am absolutely thrilled.  The new plantation blinds arrived  yesterday, which is Banjo Man’s final task.

It’s amazing what paint can do, isn’t it?

Posted in rhode island, shopping | 10 Comments

tiptoeing into march

Warmer weather is coming, as are more vaccines.  Things are looking up around here!

A sample of scraps of strings from my “string bin” that were used to make 168 blocks last week.

I keep sewing and waiting for spring and the happy day when stores open their fitting rooms.

Yesterday I found myself at the local CVS Minute Clinic being treated for an ear infection.  For some unknown reason, I tend to get ear infections in March.  It doesn’t matter if I’m in Texas or RI.   And now I know that wearing a mask everywhere plus only going out once a week to buy food doesn’t prevent my annual ear infection.

It’s a mystery.

Getting medical treatment in the Time of Covid is a challenge, as I’m sure many of you know.  Our family doctor retired last month and I transferred my records to a local group of doctors.  Yesterday morning I was to meet with their nurse practitioner for my official first visit/check up.

And yet…I had had a fever the night before.  Because I had had a fever I needed to see a doctor and get antibiotics.   But because I had had a fever I wasn’t allowed to see a doctor.  And because I hadn’t yet seen this particular doctor or nurse I couldn’t get a prescription called in or get a tele-med appointment.

I would not pass the screening at Express Care either.  Unless I lied.  Which was tempting, I admit, as a last ditch attempt to get an antibiotic.

The doctor’s receptionist suggested going to the ER.  Or registering online at the CVS Minute Clinic and taking my chances.   So that’s what I did.  The nurse practitioner at CVS hesitated about seeing me without my getting a rapid Covid test (I had to wait in the car and talk to her on my cell), but when I told her I had already had Covid she said, “Come on in!”

I asked her if she’d had a busy winter and she said absolutely not.  She had only seen one case of flu, compared to an average of fifteen cases a day last year.

A line of happy seniors waited for their vaccines nearby.  She told me that people were getting choked up because they were so relieved to get the vaccine.  I felt that way when Banjo Man got his.

Thirty minutes later I had my antibiotics and headed home to curl up on the couch and watch endless episodes of TIME TEAM, a show about archaeology digs around Britain.  It always puts me to sleep, despite my fascination with the Stone Age.

Today I’m feeling much better and have returned to this week’s project, yet another scrappy quilt.  This time the pieces are from my bin of 5″ squares.

I love sewing half-square triangles.

Especially when these colors remind me of spring.



Posted in quilting, rhode island | 4 Comments

the windermere children

This was quite a film.  Based on a true story, it’s the mostly unknown story of 300 children who survived the Nazi death camps and were sent to the English countryside for rehabilitation and treatment.  The caretakers were expecting small children, but the Windermere refugees were mostly teenage boys.

This was a wonderful movie.  Especially the ending.

Break out the tissues.

From PBS:  This is the stark, moving ultimately redemptive story of the bonds these children make with one another, and of how the friendships forged at Windermere become a lifeline to a fruitful future.

From Amazon:  One summer’s night in 1945, 300 children are in transit from Prague to the Lake District, a remote and picturesque corner of the English countryside. They are child survivors of the Nazi Holocaust that has all but wiped out Europe’s Jews – and for these particular children, their entire families too. They are some of the 1000 children the British government has granted refuge to, giving them a place where they can rehabilitate and grow strong after the devastation of the war. They carry only the clothes they wear and a few meagre possessions, along with the physical and psychological scars of all they have suffered. They do not know what awaits them in Britain and naturally they are fearful: they don’t speak English, and having spent many years living in death camps, have missed out on a proper education. But the children are also excited, for the war is over, and there is always hope that the future will be kinder to them than the past. 

90% of Europe’s Jewish children were murdered in the Holocaust.  Only 150,000 survived.  Thirteen million other European children lost parents in WWII.

What to do with these orphaned children became one of the largest humanitarian aid projects in history.

And here is a little piece of it.


Posted in movies | 3 Comments

last week’s tv and covid vaccines

Banjo Man received his Covid vaccine February 8 and I got mine last week, on the 24th.  Oh, happy day!  I was nervous and expecting side affects, but a sore arm and a small fever was all I had to show for it.

Piece of cake.

But until the end of March we are practicing Safe Vax, as in waiting for the recommended two weeks post-vaccine (after our second doses mid-March) to feel invincible and free.  Which means the daily question:  what are we watching tonight?

HELL’S KITCHEN has returned to Fox on Thursday nights, bringing great joy to Banjo Man.  A less-than-wonderful season of BELOW DECK has wrapped up and I’m glad.  THE BACHELOR has been full of bullying and mean girl drama, so we are sick of it.  I hope they cancel the show.  Stick a fork in it, it’s done.   We know who he picks, they’ve already broken up, and no one cares.

Which brings us to Amazon Prime and Netflix…

I’ve written about The Tunnel before, but that was before we’d watched all three seasons.  It was a wonderful show and we loved the characters.  It’s violent and sad, so be prepared.  At first I was worried about so many subtitles, but it quickly becomes more English-speaking and easier to follow after the first episode or two.  The first few episodes of Season 1 are a bit slow, but the characters develop quickly and the suspense never stops.

I do have an issue with British police detectives roaming around scary places in search of evil serial killers without having a gun.  There is a tendency to open doors and step into caves and tunnels without being armed.  So either British (and often French) police are super brave or insanely foolhardy or the writers got lazy.  I don’t know, but I loved this Amazon series despite those bits.

Also on Amazon:  Martin Freeman (of SHERLOCK and FARGO fame) is brilliant as a police detective who risks his career and his reputation to catch the killer of a missing woman in Wiltshire.  It’s based on a true story, which I always enjoy.  This 3-part drama skips the violence and murder and starts at the search of a missing girl.  The Wiltshire police do not come off well, but the mother of a missing girl who never stops campaigning for better laws and justice for her daughter?  She’s a hero.

IMPOSTERS is Banjo Man’s current favorite.  Labelled a “dark comedy” when it appeared on Bravo in 2017, its two seasons now stream on Netflix.  The writing is clever (great dialogue), as is the plot.  A beautiful young con artist sets up men to fall in love with her.  Once they’re married, she strips their bank accounts and takes everything they own.  She disappears, on to the next victim.  The fun begins when her last three victims join up to find her.  In the meantime she’s now attempting to con a very dangerous man.

My absolute favorite show of the winter has been the PBS remake of ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL.  After having owned a Pekingese, we watched the episodes with the pampered Peke Tricki-Woo with great joy.

Last week Amazon Prime and our Samsung Smart tv stopped communicating.  I did some research in an attempt to fix the problem, but learned that older (2016 and earlier) Samsung tv’s need newer firmware for Prime, but neither Prime nor Samsung supply it or care.  The solutions are to use another device to connect to Prime streaming or buy a new tv.  But since I am the Queen of Tech Supplies, I rummaged through my precious bin of cords and devices to retrieve an almost-new Amazon Fire Stick.

Banjo Man is always in awe of all things techie and, from his cozy nest on the couch, declared his shock, awe and amazement at such basic skills.  Hilarious!  The downside?  I now have four remotes to juggle.

And that’s all the news from the couch.


Posted in rhode island, television | 4 Comments

rhode island’s favorite toy is woke

Our little state has been in turmoil for years.  Bankruptcy, federal takeover of the largest school district, Speakers of the House ending up in prison (as have a mayor and a handful of state representatives).  Summer and fall protests, looting, burning, attacking diners on Federal Hill.  The list goes on and on, but I’ll spare you the rest.  Let’s just say the FBI keeps busy here in the smallest state of the union.

And of course Covid.  Or Corona, as it was known as a year ago.  The previous weeks have been rough, as the vaccine rollout was barely a trickle and no one appeared to be in charge to address the problems.  Our governor is leaving for DC.  Amidst the screaming from mayors and state reps, this week the Covid vaccine began to be available to those 65 and older.  Now that CVS, local senior centers and a state-run mega site are distributing the vaccine, people are beginning to schedule their shots.  A sigh of relief was heard o’er the land.

But the real issue?  The reason people in this state were in an uproar this week?

Mr. Potato Head has dropped the “Mr.” in order to be “gender neutral”.  He will now be sold as Potato Head.

Which is hilarious, especially because Rhode Islanders are so miffed.  If there was a State Toy, this would be ours.  In other words, don’t mess with our potato.

He began in here in 1952.  Are you old enough to remember that originally the toy was sold as only the little decorative pieces?  We supplied our own potatoes.

And yes, I used a real potato.  I am that old.  

He was the first toy to be advertised on television, in 1952.

In 1964 he was sold with the plastic body.  Those plastic pieces had been declared dangerous, as their sharp ends pierced little fingers and also could be swallowed.  So the ends were blunted, the pieces enlarged and a plastic potato body was born.

A line of Potato Head friends and family developed.  He had all sorts of outfits.  He was a star on Toy Story.  Somewhere along the line he quit smoking and lost his pipe.

And now he is woke.  The world has a gender-neutral potato.

I cannot stop laughing.


Posted in a more pie opinion, just for fun, rhode island | 4 Comments

nine more days

February is almost over.

Let’s party!

We’re having another little storm today, but the weather in Austin is improving.  Will has his power back.  Ben’s has stayed on.  Water issues continue, but my Texans are warm at last.  Tomorrow the ice will start to melt and temps will stay above freezing.

I’ve been stress-cleaning all week (Banjo Man is happily looking forward to taking it all to the dump tomorrow), but yesterday afternoon when Will texted to say the power was back on after 80+ hours I celebrated by baking.

And now…what do I do with five dozen oatmeal raisin cookies?

Let’s talk about pumpkins:

These are now four months old.  They are in perfect condition and remain cheerfully orange on top of the little liquor cupboard.

Eternal pumpkins.  Who knew?



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the disaster that is texas

Well, my Texans are still in the midst of a historic freeze, with snow and ice and sleet covering the roads and sidewalks.  Tonight the last storm system will end after leaving more ice in its wake, but things will warm up nicely by next week.

Will has had no electricity (and therefore no heat) for over 80 hours.  The temps have been in the single digits night after night and in the teens and twenties during the day.

Luckily he is a guy who owns a lot of wool socks and warm clothes.  In fact, his prized possession is his great-grandfather’s red plaid Woolrich jacket.

I just saw a similar jacket for sale on Etsy for $550, but I doubt that Will would ever relinquish it.

He escaped to a friend’s house on Tuesday night (the friend had chains for his tires and could pick him up), but returned to the condo when his friend’s power went out the next afternoon.  But at least he twenty-four hours to warm up and eat a hot meal.  I’m sure he enjoyed his coffee Wednesday morning!

People are lining up for hours outside of grocery stores that can’t replenish the shelves.

Water pipes and water mains are bursting all over the city.  Water pressure is low or non-existent.  Fire hydrants have no water pressure either.

There is a “boil water” notice for all of Austin.  How do you boil water when you have no power?  How do you buy bottled water when you can’t get to a store?

And in Will’s case, how do you store supplies for a week-long emergency in a 640 square foot condo?  I think when this is over there will be supplies in place, just in case winters in  Austin turn colder.

The folks in Austin have no idea when power will be restored.

Ben, Amber and the Funny Grandson have power back, but no water.  The FG Face-timed yesterday to give me his version of his “adventure” with the storm, the cold, and the lack of electricity.

He told me that when the power came back on (after 2+ days) his dad made him oatmeal and it was the best oatmeal he’d ever had in his life and he could have eaten eighteen bowls.

I’m sure his Uncle Will is going to feel the same way.




Posted in austin, family, texas | 6 Comments

shot in the dark

Last night we drove north to CVS for Banjo Man’s Covid vaccine appointment.

Oh, happy day!

Our state is having a very hard time getting its act together, but last week I was able to secure an appointment by staying on the CVS website and constantly refreshing the vaccine page.  After a few hours I got lucky.

Banjo Man is feeling fine this morning.  We’re looking out the window at freezing rain and then another snowstorm on Thursday.

But it’s not as bad as it is in Texas.

Ben, Amber and the Funny Grandson have experienced temps of 1 degree.  They have no power and, despite keeping the faucets dripping, have frozen, broken pipes.  They do have a gas stove top so they can heat up food.  But of course there is no heat and it could be days before the electricity is restored.

All the roads are covered with ice (school was cancelled last Friday and remains closed), so Texans are pretty much trapped in place until Sunday’s warmer temperatures.

And Will?  He has no electricity, no heat and no cell phone (Verizon has been having problems).  I hope he still has water.  And I know he has a great sleeping bag.  But day after day of single-digit temps and no heat equal a very cold condo.  And there’s no way to drive anywhere, as the roads are covered in ice.

At least Will can walk to the grocery store, because he owns boots and cold weather gear.  Maybe he can find a hot cup of coffee somewhere.

I worry about my Texans.  This is a historic cold spell and is the Texas version of RI’s “Blizzard of ’78”.

Posted in austin, family, rhode island | Leave a comment

all the pretty boxes

This past week my manic quilting was replaced by manic decluttering.


As the end of the Covid isolation is nearing, as is our flight to Spokane (69 days), I can’t wait to enjoy a campfire by the lake.  I want to bundle up in my warmest jacket and–rain or shine–collect driftwood and look for arrowheads on the beach.  I want to perch on my favorite log and drink coffee.  I want to see an eagle.

But for now?  My cure for stress has always been buying plastic containers and putting stuff inside of them.  A pandemic has not changed that.

Of course I had to sneak the new plastic purchases past Banjo Man, who thankfully was on the phone when I returned from Home Depot having bought all six boxes on the shelf (and wished there were more).

A decade of “Buying Pretty Boxes At Home Goods” has ended.

After several days of sorting and organizing, here’s the result:

The remaining white boxes on the top left hold my vintage button collections.  I ran out of (a) energy and (b) plastic storage boxes.  Maybe next winter…

Here’s a bag filled with three pretty boxes of sewing notions and fun stuff for Harley Chick’s craft-minded granddaughter.

I love my label maker.   Can you tell?

And now I sit here with my second cup of coffee, listening to Tom Waites (The Early Years, Vol. 2) and wondering what I can throw away or repackage next.

Banjo Man had better watch out.



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such is my world

Next week will mark eleven months since the pandemic became real and the lockdown began.

Last November our governor once again shut down almost everything in the state and I’ve been in my room ever since (except for that lovely week in Texas).

The room is small, but it works.

My cutting table can be wheeled around to get the best light.

My office chair can be wheeled from my desk to my sewing machine. 

My television (the photo showing yet another episode of EXPEDITION UNKNOWN) can be wheeled from the bedroom to the office.

And the ironing board can be lowered to become a dining room table.

Home, sweet home.  For now.



Posted in just for fun, rhode island | 1 Comment