fifty years later

Yesterday Banjo Man had a lot of errands to do, so I convinced him to leave work early and do his errands in the early afternoon so I could go along for the ride.

I hate to keep harping about my energy levels, but I am limited to how much I can accomplish on my own.  Before I can complete more than two errands, I’m longing to go home and take a nap.  And that’s what I do.  But it’s great fun when someone else drives and I can conserve my energy for a trip inside of a store.

We are expecting a snowy weekend with rain and sleet, so I figured this was my big chance to get out.  Also I assumed I would get lunch along the way.

My friend Ruth told me that the Pagoda Inn was still doing a healthy business, so since we were in the neighborhood (having headed north for a sale on Gulf shrimp) I suggested we stop (we’d already done seven errands, though I’d spent most of them in the car) for lunch.

Banjo Man was shocked.  “It’s still open???”

You see, the Pagoda Inn is where Banjo Man first told me he loved me almost fifty years ago (it was in March, 1970).  We’d returned for our 25th wedding anniversary, but we hadn’t been back since, despite driving past it hundreds of times.


He kept muttering, “Fifty years?  Fifty years!” all the way to the restaurant and in the parking lot and even inside the restaurant.

He was clearly suffering from the Passage of Time, which I thought was hilarious.  So I kept saying, in a faux-sweet voice, “Tell me you love me.”

And then I would laugh and laugh.

This did not ease his pain.

The food was decent and I happily have tons of leftovers to pick on all weekend.  Banjo Man ate everything that was put in front of him, but never stopped moaning about surreal it was that we were here fifty years ago on a romantic date.

“Well, you must have meant it,” I said as he paid the bill.

“Meant what?”

“That you loved me,” I explained, laughing.  “Because we’re still together.”

“That’s true,” he admitted, cheering up a bit now that we were leaving.  He picked up my to-go boxes and waited for me to put on my gloves.

“Tell me you love me again.”  I couldn’t help myself.

“I love you,” he said again, tolerating my laughter.  “Are you too tired to go to Walmart?  I need flax.”

“That’s so romantic.”

Banjo Man thought I was joking, of course, but there is something romantic about waiting in the car while your Boyfriend Of 50 Years buys flax seed and the car smells of fried dumplings.

It’s always good to be together.








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what’s happening in the kitchen

Definitely not cooking.


An excellent use for the kitchen island.

This was a quilt I made last winter from a Kaffe Fassett pattern.  It was fun to put together, though I had to get creative as to the fabrics I used.  I had resolved to use what I had in my cupboard and not buy anything new.

I still hold to the theory that buying fabric is cheaper than buying antidepressants, but even with that in mind I realize I need to sew with what is already in my stash.

I’m not sure how I’ll quilt it–using my fussy rulers for perfect lines or freeform feathers or something simpler–but it is enjoyable to stare at it and think of all the possibilities.



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on the wall in 2020


My Scrappy  Spiderweb quilt finds a home.

It’s actually more colorful than the photo shows.  This space above the stairs used to display an antique quilt top, one I’d also framed and hung above the couch in our old Idaho home.  It finally disintegrated from sun damage and Banjo Man’s foolish attempt to wash it.


But this is better.  And it’s the first time I’ve ever hung one of my quilts.  We enjoyed doing it so much we hung a smaller one on the opposite wall going down the stairs to the lower level.

I don’t know why I’d never done this before, but I am thrilled to see my quilts being displayed.

A quilt-hanging system called “Hang It Dang It” made it easy and possible to hang the very heavy Spiderweb quilt with one nail.  Banjo Man found a stud and we were all set.

Here’s the info, in case you have a quilt you’d like to display:



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first date

I think I’ve posted before about my fondness for January 12.

This year is the 50th anniversary of our first date.

We can’t believe we’re this old.  I guess as long as we don’t look in the mirror today, we’ll survive.

Banjo Man and I intend to stay home tonight, eat leftovers and watch football.  We have cleaned my office and hung some drapes in the bedroom.  Not very romantic, but it made us old folks happy.

Yesterday we actually got in the car together and did some errands!  Then we had lunch, which was very wonderful (the $9.99 special at Ninety-Nine).  On the way home we stopped at Walmart, where Banjo Man picked up all of his bargain fruit and I napped in the car.

I am very good at napping in the car.  It’s a skill I perfected when I had teenagers and had to wait for softball games or football practices or rehearsals to end.  After a long day in front of the computer, I took advantage of any quiet moments in which to close my eyes and pass out while in the parking lot of the high school.

I also napped–in my new bed–when we arrived home yesterday.

Purple Bed Update:  this mattress is glorious.  Heaven.  The best thing ever.  And the “adjustable base”?  Well, be still my heart.

What baffles me is that neither of my physical therapists have heard of the Purple Bed.  I explained to my cancer PT that this was the first time I’d been comfortable sleeping on my right side since the surgery.  I explained to my sciatica PT that the pain in my leg and hip was much less at night now and I was sleeping so much better.

They looked very surprised.  And possibly a bit skeptical.

I am going to the mattress store tomorrow and getting brochures so I can pass them out at therapy and Spread The Word.

But tonight it’s time to open a bottle of wine and celebrate 50 Years With Banjo Man.  Who knew it would last this long????







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saying goodbye to 2019

Oh, how glad we are that 2019 is over!

At this time last January we began packing up the kitchen, living room, dining area, pantries, closets and bedroom in preparation for the unexpected remodel.  We spent the winter living in the bottom half of our raised ranch (cozy and kinda fun).  And then, of course, there was the dreaded cancer diagnosis and all it brought with it.  Then there was all it took away:  a summer by the lake, music with the band on the Hill, time with friends and family on the porch, guitar lessons and so much more.

So… Hello, 2020!  I’m so glad you’re here!  

And I’m glad to be here, too.  A bit battered and a lot bruised, I am so very, very grateful.

A few of my favorite photos of last year:


Banjo Man and his brother GL overlooking Narragansett Beach last February.


Me having fun at the New England Patriots Hall of Fame in July.


Uncle Don and the Funny Grandson posing in San Diego in June.

IMG_3533 (Edited)

Mystic Seaport Museum in September.


Breakfast with the grandson at the Magnolia Cafe a few days before Christmas.

Here’s to another year of more photos and great memories!



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the color purple

Almost everyone I know is hurting:  hips and knees and backs and everything in between.

So consider this a public service announcement, because this solution never appeared on my Google searches regarding sciatica.

What solution, you ask.  A new mattress!!!!

I’ve been suffering with leg pain for months.  Twice-weekly physical therapy didn’t help much, though the therapists did their best and I did all the daily recommended stretches.

And then we went away.  The Bourbon Orleans had a lovely, comfy bed.  My leg pain improved…a lot.  I assumed that was because I was walking more, even though my doctor had advised me to take it easy.  The pain was almost gone by the time we hit Austin.  I still limped a little in the morning but I wasn’t hanging onto chairs and balancing against walls to get to the coffee pot in the morning.

After two weeks we returned home and I crawled back into my familiar bed and sighed with relief that we were home safe and sound.  And the next morning?  The pain had returned with a vengeance.  What could be the problem?  I gave it a lot of thought until that light bulb moment:  the mattress!!!

But our mattress was relatively new, I assured Banjo Man.  He was unconvinced.  And then I remembered we’d bought it…twenty years ago.

“We’d better go shopping,” he said.

Shopping???  Whoa, there!  I had to do research first!  As in googling, “best mattress for sciatica”.

After seventeen hours I narrowed it down to the weird Purple mattress and several “memory foam” manufacturers.  Off we went to lie down on about twenty mattresses.  I would be crippled by the time we left the Mattress Firm, but we’d agreed that the Purple mattress–whose specialty was relieving “pressure points”–felt the best by far.

Banjo Man grumbled incessantly about memory foam.  It was quite amusing…the first fifteen minutes.  I admitted that memory foam could take a bit of getting used to, but it was supposed to be good for painful parts of one’s body.

The Purple mattress will be delivered tomorrow.  I will have 120 days to decide if it works or I want my money back.   In the meantime I’m sleeping in the basement where the mattresses are younger.

I’ll keep you posted.







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2020 and what’s for dinner?

We’re home again, after a wonderful holiday season in New Orleans and Austin.

It’s time to catch our breath and talk about diets.

Oh, dear.

Our son Will mused that his father might have two stomachs, like a cow.  Because my enthusiastic husband never stopped eating for fifteen days.  It was amazing and frightening at the same time.  How does he do it?

Our trip to New Orleans centered around music and food, though Banjo Man went to evening music events mostly on his own while I happily curled up in bed at the hotel.

We took a class at the New Orleans Cooking School with Chef Ricardo, a hilarious and knowledgeable local chef who cooked in many New Orleans restaurants before retiring.


We loved Chef Ricardo.

There were nine of us.  Five cooking stations.  Lots of history about the food of New Orleans.  Champagne, Bloody Mary’s, beer and wine…at 10 AM.  Needless to say, a good time was had by all.


Chef Banjo Man peeling shrimp.

We made gumbo, which was good but I didn’t care for the addition of Cajun Worcestershire sauce.  Beware gumbo recipes that call for it and think long and hard before you dump a capful into your cooking pot.

Here is the best dish I’ve ever eaten in all of my time in New Orleans:


BBQ Shrimp and grits.

And Banjo Man made it!!!!

We also learned how to make crepes and Bananas Foster, but the star of the show was the shrimp.

Before we left New Orleans, we returned to the cooking school’s gift shop where I treated myself to a wooden “roux spoon”, the most expensive spoon I will ever own and which I will have to put in my will so it doesn’t end up in a Salvation Army utensil bin.

Needless to say, I loved the feel of it and how easily it “pushed and pulled” the roux as it cooked.

And then there was this:


Breakfast at Cafe du Monde.

Fortunately we only visited here once.  But it was heavenly.

Our flight to Austin was at 4:00 PM, but we arrived at the brand new airport early in order to enjoy a relaxing lunch of po’ boys and gumbo before getting on the plane.  There were lots of choices for food and all of them tempting.  The new airport is gorgeous, by the way.

And we didn’t stop eating once we landed in Austin, either.  Banjo Man and I cooked shepherd’s pie, Frito Pie (never again!!), beef stew, chicken pesto pasta, Tuscan turkey soup and, of course, gumbo.


The annual holiday gumbo.

I’m not going to talk about the Christmas cookies.  Or special cake.  Or the cinnamon rolls.

I was relieved to have gained no weight at all on our trip, while Banjo Man is still moaning and groaning every time he thinks about eating anything but steamed vegetables.

But it was worth it, because as Chef Ricardo said, “If you’re not gainin’ a pound a day while you’re here, you ain’t doin’ it right!”





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christmas eve 2019

Merry Christmas, y’all!

We are in Austin and loving our quiet holiday week with the Texas members of the family.

As I write this Banjo Man is chopping the onions, green peppers and celery for Thursday’s gumbo.  Son Will is wrapping gifts and I am patiently for someone to join me in a walk to Torchys for a taco lunch.

We are skipping our usual evening of music and shopping at the Armadillo Bazaar tonight.  I think we will stay home, eat shrimp and watch a movie.  It’s that kind of Christmas.

The Funny Grandson was here from Friday to Monday, so we had a riotously good time.  I brought a Christmas movie, DIE HARD, which thrilled him no end.  There was Shepherds Pie, root beer floats and football.

I am so grateful and happy to be here.  Seven months ago it didn’t seem remotely possible, but here we are and I am overcome with joy.

We didn’t send cards this year.  So I am wishing you all, dear friends and family and readers, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New 2020.

Hug everyone you love at least twenty times!!


More Pie and Banjo Man






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lovin’ the gumbo

When you need a bit of a break from winter.


Flying into New Orleans.

When you need holiday spirit.


View of very quiet Bourbon Street from our hotel bar.


When your best caregiver and cheerleader gets hungry.


First stop:  Coop’s.

When you need music every day.


Jazz brunch at Court of Two Sisters.

We spent part of Tuesday afternoon  at the Jazz Park for a fabulous history of New Orleans jazz pianists.  Richard Scott played and sang for over an hour.  Banjo Man bought his new CD (he owns all the others).  He has been to Fritzel’s every night for jazz.

I am rationing my steps and resting when I need to.  Our first day here, when our room wasn’t going to be ready until 4:00 and we had spent much of the day sightseeing and eating gumbo, we found a quiet corner in the hotel bar and I took a lovely nap on the couch!

And that’s the way I roll.

I have eaten gumbo in three different restaurants.  I liked them all but I like mine better.

In about an hour we are taking a three hour, hands on cooking class.  And what will we cook?  Gumbo, BBQ shrimp, grits and banana foster crepes.  I cannot wait to pick up some gumbo tips!!!  Banjo Man is almost delirious with anticipation.  How he would love to be able to create a masterpiece of a meal!

I’ll let you know how that works out.


Eggs Benedict with fried oysters for breakfast.



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snow day

When it’s snowing and Banjo Man has put Texas two-step music in the cd player and your mother is making blueberry pancakes…



Oh, the joy of it!  Years ago I arranged two-step and swing lessons for my sons, husband and daughter.  We had a private two-hour lesson up in the city.

Daughter Nancy was a natural.  The only natural.



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