rain, planes and football games

Banjo Man is on his way to Nebraska.  We left the house in drenching, pouring, driving, miserable RAIN at 3:30 AM.  I guess this is the same storm system that covered the upper midwest with snow.

We’ll take the rain, thank you.

But along with the rest of country, we’re wondering where the he** Spring is!

Anyway, Banjo Man is off to Lincoln and the SUV I rented for him so he could travel all over the city seeing his friends (Hi, Tom!) and buying runzas and picking people up at the airport.

(Runzas are meat and cabbage-stuffed packets of dough and are delicious).


Click on this to read about the Runza stores:

I plan to have a runza, onion rings and a mini vanilla shake at the very first opportunity.  


Oh, yes, did I tell you?  I’m flying to Nebraska, too.  On Friday.  As are Ben and Will.  It’s going to be a Cornhusker Spring Game Welcome Scott Frost Family Reunion Pizza Party Extravaganza.

I’d assumed the Spring Game would be hot and sunny.  I bought #70 sunscreen.  But…the forecast is for rain.  We’ll be wearing plastic ponchos and wool sweaters.

Go Big Red!

frost tshirt

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fantastic mr. fox and what the heck is on my wall?

Son Will engineered a movie night for his sick mother last month.  Remember when I was stuck in Texas with the Neverending Evil Virus?  Well, as I started to recover and wasn’t coughing every three seconds, Will decided we should watch one of his favorite movies and eat gourmet coffee chocolate chip ice cream.

There was no argument from me.


I’m not a huge animated movie fan, but Will was right.  It was absolutely hilarious (and inspired way too many coughing fits).  I’m hoping the Funny Grandson hasn’t seen it so we can watch it together at the lake in July.  It would be a perfect movie for a night when everyone else is camping.

But I digress…

Let’s talk about this morning.

As I was stripping my bed (I don’t care how cold it is outside, it is time for the electric blanket to be stored until next December!!!) I noticed something odd on the stone wall outside of my bedroom window.  Was that blob of golden brown…fur???


It stayed like that for an hour.  I was sure it was an animal, but then again could it be a dead pine tree?  I know I need new glasses…

Banjo Man came upstairs and I showed it to him.  At that moment it lifted its head, proving it was an animal.  A fox?  A coyote?

A fox.  Definitely a fox.  A very large one.


The neighbors enjoy shooting guns in their gravel pit on Sundays, but the sounds of gunshots only made Mr. Red Fox sit up, yawn, scratch his neck, and return to his nap.  He’s either deaf or exhausted.

Or as used to the sound of gunfire as we are.



Posted in rhode island | 1 Comment

more mqx 2018

Day 2 of MQX:

We were up at 7, had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel’s lobby cafe and then headed to the Student Services area to meet up with a dozen others for a guided tour of the quilt show.  We learned about the judging, the point system, the categories and why the quilts won first, second and third place.

This is an international show, with the best of the best (and some names I actually recognized) being displayed.

How about Gene Kelly in the Pictorial Division?


Perfect points.  I cannot imagine how long this quilt took to create:



Here are others:

And more:

And a leather wall hanging:


After a very busy tour, it was time to return to the show and leisurely take pictures.  Then a quick lunch–and after making new friends at the crowded cafe–we headed to our classes.  Ruth would be taking a beginner free motion quilting class from 1-6:30 and I headed next door to a two hour class in creative ways to fill in sashings and borders with machine quilting.

It was a lecture and demo class, so we had sketchbooks instead of sewing machines.  And I learned a lot.  And managed to stay awake.

When I popped out of the class at 3:00, Ruth’s class was out in the hall taking a break.  And Ruth was smiling from ear to ear.

“I bought a sewing machine,” she joyfully announced.  Her class was sewing on the Janome 9400 (which I bought last fall and am totally in love with) and Ruth also immediately fell in love with its lighting and the visibility and…everything.  The “show price” on machines is always fantastic and she got a great deal.  And a new machine that hadn’t been unpacked yet.

Let’s just say it was the highlight of the day, as her expensive quilting class wasn’t all that great because her teacher was one hot mess (I intend to complain, because I’m the one who advised her take that kind of hands-on class and I feel responsible).

Anyway…I’m so happy she has the 9400 and can quilt her heart out from now until forever.

I grabbed a cup of coffee between classes and hoped I could stay away for my next class, which was “Fearless Feathered Borders”.  The last class had dimmed the lights so the demo could be seen on the screen, so I was groggy and needed a nap more than I needed feathered border instruction for two hours.

But I persevered.  And was glad I did.

The teacher was excellent and had us sketch various feather designs until we understood how each design worked.

They were complicated designs.  I was glad I’d had the coffee.

Then it was time to meet Ruth, whose new machine was safely loaded in the back of her car.  We picked up our suitcases and headed back to Rhode Island.  I was home with Banjo Man by 9:30.

He was still organizing our taxes, but he poured himself a glass of wine and patiently listened to my explanation of Ruler Work and Feathered Borders.

I showed him my new rulers and marking pen.  Told him about Ruth’s new machine (he was happy for her).  And bragged that… I didn’t buy any fabric!!!!

Banjo Man was amazed.







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sew much to learn


Teacher’s sample from the Ruler Work class on Wednesday.

I love to learn new things and usually jump in with both feet (except for that horrendous cross country skiing lesson Banjo Man dragged me to back in 1976–I never wanted to learn to ski and never will).

Learning something new doesn’t always work out, but my delusional personality quirk usually gets me through a few hours, days, weeks, months…

Wednesday afternoon I took a quilting class on how to machine quilt with rulers, vs. “free motion” quilting (which I love).  The ruler idea was appealing because when I am machine quilting there are times when precision and perfect lines and spacing are important.  It’s hard to do that when you are marking with pens or eyeballing the distances or marking with blue painter’s tape (which tends to curl up and fall off at the wrong times).

So a four-hour class in how to make my quilting look better was appealing.  There were 32 of us, seated at long tables in front of Janome machines with the required ruler feet attached.  We’d brought our supplies and the teacher handed out the workshop kit, which included our first ruler.  The Janome expert stood by to deal with any technical issues.  We were ready!

At first I thought I would need three hands and a new set of eyes (why oh why had I not made that eye appointment yet???), but after the first hour of questioning my sanity I started to catch on.  My bewildered brain clicked into the new way of thinking–always adding 1/4″ to any line of measurement–and it became almost fun.  In a challenging kind of way.

At the 2.5 hour mark I was hooked.  Rulers are my friends!!

Here are some I bought the next day.  This took a lot of thinking, because at the show there were at least a hundred to choose from in six different brands.  Each ruler has multi functions, so I had to decide what designs I was likely to use.


Wednesday evening Ruth and I had salads and shared a pizza at the hotel’s “tavern” restaurant.  Yes, there was tequila, too.  And we even lost our minds and shared a slice of pumpkin cheesecake.  The Expo’s preview began at 7 PM for registered students, so we cruised the quilts and the vendors until 9:30 and thought about what we would go back and purchase the next day.

I needed a special ruler foot for my sewing machine and learned from the Janome dealer that there was a computer upgrade available, along with four new feet (including the ruler foot).  Because I love sewing machine feet and it was the only way to get the ruler foot, I had to buy it.  Sigh.


But I was determined to NOT BUY ANY FABRIC.

No matter what.

I even called Banjo Man and told him that I hadn’t bought any fabric and didn’t intend to.  He was bogged down in doing our taxes and wasn’t too thrilled by (a) being interrupted and (b) being lied to.

Ruth and I set the alarm for 7 AM and were totally unconscious by 10:30.

To be continued…



Posted in friends, quilting | 2 Comments

off to mqx

MQX is a national quilt show, the Machine Quilters Expo.  I haven’t been in years, so this is very exciting.  Many years ago I drove up to Nashua, NH and spent a wonderful day up there gawking at internationally prize-winning quilts and shopping at the vendor mall.  I stayed with my friend Sharon, who lives up north, and convinced her to go with me.

The Year of the Endless Finger Surgeries left me bandaged and grumpy pretty much all the time, so it was a surprise when Banjo Man offered to drive me up to New Hampshire for a day of quilts and fabric shopping.

Best.  Medicine. Ever.

Another year MQX moved the show to Providence, which meant I could take classes.  I drove up there three days in a row and had the thrill of taking a four hour machine quilting class with one of the masters, Sharon McTavish.  I was one of a handful of students who kept stitching until the end of the class.  I just couldn’t resist making more feathers and swirls and loops–all very, very tiny.  My eyes were so shot I had trouble driving out of the parking garage.

Here’s a link to some of her work on Pinterest:

Not only was she a great and inspiring teacher, but she has tattoos of her quilted feathers on her arms.


So this morning, my friend Ruth and I are heading to New Hampshire.  I’m taking a four hour hands-on machine class using rulers with my “domestic sit down sewing machine” (vs. longarm machine) this afternoon from 1-5.

We’re spending the night, so we get to shop and stroll this evening.

Tomorrow we’ll take more classes (Ruth is taking one of those four hour, hands-on classes herself), then we’ll drive home tomorrow night.

Here’s another photo of one of my very first machine-quilted projects, a “Chinese Boxes” lap quilt.  I finished it up and gave it to Nancy for her birthday last week.  She loves purple.



Here’s the back.  The tops of the boxes were made from one piece of fabric, cut in four identical layers and pieced together in a kaleidoscope way.


See you Friday!


Posted in quilting, rhode island | 3 Comments

a party for #92


Ginny made this “s’mores” cake.  Yum.

Mom turned 92  yesterday, so on Sunday we had a little dinner party with seafood gumbo and birthday cake (always a good combination for a woman born in New Orleans).

I broke out the ruby-flashed glasses and matching napkins.


The magnolia napkin rings were purchased at an outlet store 20 years ago.  I must have gotten a really good deal because I bought a lot of them.

And then I put them away and never used them.  In my “death cleaning” this winter I pulled them out of the closet where they’d been safely and carefully stored in one of my beloved plastic containers.  I vowed to use them this year or give them away.


So here they are.  Why haven’t I used them before?  Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

I have no excuse.

It was a lovely afternoon, though we missed our friends Mayme and George (housebound with health issues) very much.

IMG_0873 Happy Birthday, Mom!

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

movies worth the time

We splurged on a couple of months of HBO via Amazon Prime, so these movies came via that subscription.  We’ll be watching a few more offerings on this channel before we cancel it and become frugal again.

Last night we watched this movie:

hidden figures

I love based-on-true-events stories and this one was a jaw-dropping look into the 1960’s, with all of its unimaginable prejudices and faults.  Three African American women–math geniuses–work for NASA and the race to get John Glenn into space.  Fabulous!  The best part was the end, when the credits rolled and we learned what happened to these women and how much they accomplished in their lives.

We loved it.

Wednesday night we watched this movie:


I wasn’t expecting much–but as I said to Banjo Man, “We know it will be better than ‘Hector’.”

He agreed, so we settled in with our salads and I clicked “play”.

This story centered on an uncle’s determination to give his seven-year old math-genius niece a real life, one with friends and Girl Scouts and normalcy.  He has good reasons for doing so, but his mother has other ideas.  The relationship between the uncle and the niece is absolutely adorable without being sappy.  We couldn’t anticipate how they would all get to a happy ending, but of course eventually it worked out.  Lots of little twists and turns along the way and lots of believable dialogue and characters.

In other words, a pleasure.

Tonight’s film could be “Lion”, starring Nicole Kidman.  Banjo Man’s been resisting this one, but I think it’s time.  Son Will has recommended “Captain America” (the first one), so that is also an option (but we have to pay to rent it).

Spring is not here in Rhode Island, so we’re still in “Winter Evenings on the Couch” mode.  Snow is forecast for tomorrow night and the wind blows cold every day.  To be fair, this state is not known for its lovely springs.  One day I’ll wake up and it will be 80 degrees with 90% humidity, the beaches will be open and the tourists will be clogging the roads.

And in 62 days I’ll be back at the lake.




Posted in movies, rhode island | 5 Comments

hector, please go home


Banjo Man and I couldn’t decide what to watch last night, so as I was browsing through Netflix I saw this movie, “Hector”, set in Scotland.  What the heck.  It’s Scotland.  We’ll love the scenery and the accents.


The good news:  this movie is only 1 hour and 27 minutes long.

The bad news:  this movie feels like it’s 3 hours and 27 minutes long.

Here’s the description from IMDB:

“A portrait of an invisible man and an authentic account of homelessness within contemporary Britain, Hec McAdam is at once a powerful character study and an insight into the lives of those on the margins. Hec has been living around the motorways with transient friends for years. After so long on the move, he hopes to have left his past far behind. Our story follows his annual pilgrimage, on the roads and in the cities, from Scotland to a shelter in London to be with his temporary Christmas family . But his clock is ticking and he is compelled to try to reconnect with his real family he last saw 15 years before.”

Hector is a likable guy, always polite to his friends and strangers.  He has a bad leg and walks with a crutch as he drags his blue suitcase with him everywhere he travels.  He’s on the road.  And living on the road is not easy, as you see for a very long hour and a half of Hector’s endlessly depressing road trip.

The movie really shows what being homeless is like, but as the movie goes on we see that Hector has always had options.  And yet being homeless and not dealing with the grief of his past has turned Hector into a weak character (although at first you think he is a hell of a strong guy).  Hector has Issues.  He also has a pension and National Health Care.

Go figure.

I loved the “kindness of strangers” bits, the people who so sweetly offered food and clothing and shelter and rides.  Those scenes were the bright spots in an otherwise dreary tale.  Too many scenes of Hector hitchhiking, sleeping on sidewalks and limping in pain along the sides of roads made me want to dig out the tequila and self-medicate.

I resisted.  The maple-flavored pumpkin seeds sufficed as Hector bought a new suitcase and fur-trimmed hat, then donned a donated jacket and decent shoes.

I wished him well, but I didn’t want to see any more of him.

Neither did Banjo Man.






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45 thumbs up

A funny thing happened last Christmas when I was trying to come up with dinners the family would like.

I get tired of making the same things over and over again, though everyone insists they like lasagna and enchiladas and meatballs.  Maybe they are just being polite.  Maybe they long for a change.  Maybe they wish Mom would–please God–make something else.

Banjo Man suggested a Blast From the Past, Shepherd’s Pie, something I made when the kids were all home and around the dining room table every night.

So I did and it was such a hit!  The Funny Grandson was suspicious at first and balked at eating the unknown casserole, but he choked it down and later admitted it was “okay”.

The rest of the family had seconds and fought over the leftovers.

So during March’s visit, I made another shepherd’s pie.  It disappeared quickly, much to Will’s disappointment.  It turned out to be the perfect lunch for him to take to work and heat up in “the pit” at Black’s.

The Funny  Grandson shoveled in two helpings and gave it an enthusiastic rating of “45 thumbs up”.

We all fought over the leftovers.

So I made another one.


Shepherd’s Pie, 2018.

And then I got sick, so all cooking came to a screeching halt.  The day before I finally headed home, Will picked up the ingredients for a third pie.  I felt well enough to make another one, so here it is.

The recipe is embarrassingly simple, but if you want to relive the 1980’s, be my guest.


2 pounds of lean hamburger
2 packets of taco seasoning
water (follow the directions on the seasoning packet).

Brown the hamburger, drain the grease, add the packets and follow the directions on the packet.  Simmer for 10 minutes or so.

Press into a 13 x 9 pan.

For the mashed potatoes, follow the directions on the instant potato box.  I use 6 cups water, 3 cups milk, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 stick butter.  And add 6 cups of potato flakes.  Follow the directions on the box.  I also stir in an 8 oz package of cream cheese (cubed) to give the potatoes more body and flavor, but that’s optional.  It melts nicely when you stir it in with half of the flakes before adding the rest of the flakes.

Spread the potatoes on top of the meat.  Then I shred about a cup of cheddar cheese and sprinkle on top.

Bake uncovered at 350 for about 45 minutes, until hot and the cheese has melted.

I know some people add corn to the burger, but when the kids were small they liked their corn “on the side”.  I served this year’s Shepherd’s Pie with fancy green salads instead of a vegetable.

Just put this in the “Comfort Food” category.



Posted in food, texas | 2 Comments

but it’s april!!!


This is so wrong.  In so many ways.

We’re supposed to get about 4″.  Tomorrow it will melt.  And then?

Could we please see some daffodils?  Please?


Posted in rhode island | 1 Comment