the morning from hell

It started with a bang at 7:45 AM.   A very big bang.  The house shook.  I was here in my office at the computer.   Banjo Man was just getting out of bed.

“It’s the tree!” he yelled and we both rushed into the living room to look out the front windows at the huge tree that has shaded our home for thirty-one years.

Sure enough, the tree had split in half down the middle with a large part of it resting on our roof.  Weakened by last week’s winds, this morning’s gusts finished it off.

Banjo Man rushed off to get dressed and I turned around to grab my phone.  I have learned from experience that the first things to do were (a) take pictures and (b) call the insurance company.

This is what I saw:

Yes, a branch had come right through the ceiling.  My poor quilt was stabbed to the wall.

It’s like a horror movie, a friend said (Ruth had stopped by to pick up some supplies I’d found for her, things that couldn’t be found in her grocery store, but more about shortages in another post).

The forecast was for rain all day and all night, though it had yet to begin.


We called Barb and Rod because they are our friends, they live down the street and they are always ready and willing to help out in any emergency.

Thank God.

Glen and Rod managed to tie tarps over the holes in the roof.  In the process of putting buckets in the attic, they discovered some major structural damage to rafters and beams.  There is a crack in our east wall.  The front door has moved.  The entry light no longer works, meaning we had to turn off the circuit breaker and lose half the power in the living room.

In other words, this is not going to be a quick fix.  In a time of worker and lumber shortages, this is going to take a while as we hope that the tarps keep the rain out.

Banjo Man called the longtime owner of a tree-cutting business who lives around the corner.  He is going to try to get a team together tomorrow to remove the tree from the roof.  He explained that he used to employ 18 people and now has trouble hiring more than two.

Ah, 2021…

Once the tree is removed, the tarps will have to be redone, something Banjo Man is not looking forward to doing.  But…one step at a time, right?

Barb and Rod were scheduled to come for dinner tonight, so while all the temporary roof protections were happening I put a couple of pork tenderloins in the crockpot and decided it would be “business as usual” later on, when the dust settled.

There isn’t anything else to be done, not until the claims adjustor contacts us Monday.  So we might as well enjoy dinner and spend a few hours catching up on each other’s summers.

Doesn’t that sound like more fun than staring at the tree in the ceiling?

Image preview

A close up of the branch slashing through the ceiling and pinning my quilt to the wall. What a mess!
Posted in family, friends, rhode island | 2 Comments

waking up in rhode island

It has taken over a week to get my energy back after a busy (and fabulous) summer, an over-long road trip, a heartwarming family reunion and nine days of Austin condo remodeling.

And then there’s my Purple Bed, which has been so comfortable each night that I can hardly get out of it in the morning.  I’ve been sleeping late and then staggering around wondering where I stored my wool socks.

This weekend I’ll start socializing again, seeing friends and saying “Hello, I’m back!” in person instead of texting and emailing.  Next week I plan to head back to water aerobics at the YMCA.

So, what else happened in Texas?  The highly anticipated annual tradition called “Early Birthday”, when Party Grandma shows up a week or two before October 29 and puts on a birthday party for the Funny Grandson.

You remember him, don’t you?

Yes,  he is a Dallas Cowboys fan.  Will and I bought a ton of decorations at Party City.  The FG had a flag football game Friday  night and caught the touchdown pass in a tie game.  In overtime.  Oh, the cheers of the crowd!

Friday Night Lights in Texas is no joke, people.

Will and I made about 177 trips to the flooring store and to the new tile showroom to pick out samples and/or return samples.  Okay, it wasn’t 177 but it felt like it.  Melissa and Katie at the showroom became our new best friends.  And we may have spent 177 hours discussing which tile to have installed in the condo to last until the world comes to an end.

No pressure.

The finalists:

Will said no to anything beige (which was fine with me).  The dark blue looked too much like gray (I don’t like gray).  I liked the terracotta red but Will said it was too flat.   We picked the soft, milky brown–or at least I did, as Will muttered something about being “over it” and wanted to get on with his life.

Shopping for a new couch was actually much easier than we had anticipated.  If you have been reading this blog for a long time you probably remember my mind-numbing experiences in furniture stores.

You can read about the last couch I bought here:

insomnia and sofas

Which meant our morning at Ashley’s was Will’s show all the way.

He picked this one.

I don’t like the pillows, but I will cover them.   Eventually.  It’s very, very comfy.

We risked our lives on three different highways to find a kitchen cabinet store that could match my existing cabinets.  Want to see what I’m up against?

Big changes are a-comin’.

The cabinet company never answered our calls or emails or sent out a designer as promised, so we are on to Plan B.  And I would certainly tell you all about it if I knew what Plan B was.

Will rented a storage unit.  We cleaned out part of the closet.  We went to the laundromat to find a big machine in which to wash his quilts.  We took a walk down South Congress to see all of the new, trendy stores and shared a $4.00 doughnut at a fancy little place called “The Salty”.


I cooked a pot roast and taught Will how to make bacon-potato soup, which makes a great base for chilies and chicken and cheese (in other words, whatever you have in the fridge).

We were so busy we never went out to hear any live music.

And now, back home in  Rhode Island, I have been a slug.  Yesterday was a wild “Nor-easter” that knocked out power and downed trees all over the state.  Daughter Nancy is still without power, so I expect her to show up here for a shower and hot coffee before she goes to work this afternoon.

One of our big trees lost two branches, but they’re not in our way as they hang lifelessly to the ground.

We lucked out.

So today there is laundry, one last trip downstairs to finish unpacking the last suitcase, a few minutes on the treadmill and–fingers crossed–pumpkin muffins to bake.  I am determined to be energetic!

I just need another cup of coffee…..


Posted in austin, family, grandmother stuff, rhode island, shopping, texas, travel | 2 Comments

where am i

I took this last Monday night, October 11th. I was flying from Dallas to Austin and this was the sunset that greeted me a few minutes into the flight.

The man in the seat next to me had some less-than-helpful suggestions on how to take this picture, but I was polite about it and thanked him anyway.


Oh, had it been a long day! It was the three-day holiday weekend when Southwest cancelled over a thousand flights and Banjo Man and I were trying to get onto different planes and head to Rhode Island (him) and Austin (me).

We made it, though Banjo Man was stuck in Chicago for over six hours. And I was delayed in Omaha for just a couple. There were many fellow travelers in the Dallas airport who looked as if they had been there for days and had given up thinking they could ever leave.

So where am I now? In Rhode Island. I arrived at 12:45 pm, on a beautiful afternoon. Unfortunately the parking lot gates weren’t working and we couldn’t get out of the lot for almost 45 minutes.

I will spare you the details of that horror show.

Within six miles of our house we were suddenly in a huge traffic jam, something I have only experienced one other time in the thirty-four years we’ve lived here. There had been an accident between a school bus (empty, thankfully) and a car, which was laying on its side in the middle of the road. Traffic was eventually turned around to head north, roads into town were blocked every which way, but we skirted around town through the back roads to eventually arrive home…an hour later.

I’d been up since 3:30 AM because I love early morning flights, so I was almost asleep by the time we pulled up in the driveway.

The couch was lovely.

Today I have been unpacking suitcases and boxes, doing laundry and struggling to reacquaint my I-phone with my computer in order to transfer 1325 photos.

Tomorrow I will fill you in on the rest of the road trip and my time in Austin with the Funny Grandson.

Hint: he caught a touchdown pass.

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end of the road

I just kissed Banjo Man goodbye here in the Omaha airport. He is heading back to Rhode Island and has a long afternoon and evening ahead. He won’t arrive in RI until midnight and will spend at least five hours in Chicago.

Southwest is not making this easy.

My flights are delayed, too, but I’m glad to be flying. Nothing has been cancelled yet and I consider that a miracle. Over 1000 flights were cancelled yesterday.

So here I sit at Gate 18, plugged into a Charging Station, ready to head to Texas.

Part of me wishes I was heading home with Banjo Man, but in Austin there are Things To Do, such as picking out new flooring and a couch and possibly kitchen cabinets. There is also an Early Birthday celebration for the Funny Grandson.

I’m going to be busy.

Our family reunion weekend was so wonderful. I have pictures and I will blog about it as soon as I can. I don’t know about the rest of the family, but I felt wrapped up in love from start to finish.

Time to board……

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day 8, center of america

We took a detour Wednesday. At least I think it was Wednesday. I’m not sure any more.

The above photo is of Banjo Man imitating a Da Vinci sketch.

Thank goodness Banjo Man kept his clothes on.

The center of the United States was very exciting. For one of us.

There was a very,very small chapel. I couldn’t resist reading a Psalm. My one and only opportunity.

I may have been praying to get to Nebraska.

We had spent the previous night at an Econolodge in Phillipsburg, Kansas. We were a bit apprehensive when we drove up to the motel, bit it turned out to be wonderful. Like the polar opposite of the motel in Anaconda.

In other words, I did not cry.

We ate at the Sand Trap Bar And Grill, another surprise hit. Banjo Man’s chicken fried steak dinner was the size of a turkey platter.

Anyway, as interesting as the center of the United States was, we had an 11:30 tour booked at the Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud. We would see a museum, gift shop, her childhood home, train depot, her best friend’s home and two churches. Oh, and the Willa Cather prairie.

It was all good, but I was bitten and/or stung by a number of Willa Cather insects. I have the welts on my arm and back to prove it.

Travel advice: When in Red Cloud bring bug spray.

Willa Cather’s childhood home.

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western kansas, day 7

Yes, this is Kansas and there is a lot of it.

The sky is a brilliant blue and everyone is so pleasant. These are hardworking people. We have learned so much about farming in 2021. These folks know what they’re doing.

But…I don’t think I would be happy living here. Too much wind and not enough mountains.

And yet, every town has a quilt fabric shop.

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tuesday morning in kansas

We are moving slowly this morning. In an hour or two we will leave Garden City and head closer to Red Cloud, Nebraska where we will experience all things Willa Cather.

We’ve been touring an amazing part of the country. Yesterday Glen’ s clients arranged a tour of a family-owned farm that also has seed, manure, crop insurance and other businesses.

Our mouths were hanging open.

It has been really fun to be here.

And along the way Sunday? Well, there was this…

Goodland, Kansas and its 80-foot easel.

I didn’t tell Banjo Man where we were going. I thought he should be surprised.

He was.

We picked out a cafe just off I-70. The description on the website said turn right at Wheat Jesus.

Wheat Jesus?

He is rather gorgeous.

And now for the latest thing in hotel breakfasts:

You put your plate on the right side where the pancakes slide out like documents from a printer. Then you push the button. It takes a few minutes, but the two pancakes are tasty and the process isn’t as messy as the waffle maker.

A four year old girl and I were fascinated. I have gone out of my way to talk to or smile at the children we’ve seen on this trip. I worry about the social effects of Covid on the little ones, so I have chatted with the energetic boys in the pool and the kids in the breakfast rooms and a dear little boy in a Subway in Colorado. Eye contact, a smile and maybe even a wave make my day.

My white-haired grandmother persona helps a lot.

Now it is time for fresh coffee and a pancake, so I am going to get dressed and mosey on down the hall to the pancake machine. Oh, would the Funny Grandson love this!

Posted in family, food, road trip, travel | 2 Comments

maybe this was saturday

This is me on the other side of the gate to Fort Fetterman, Wyoming.

It was supposed to be open. It wasn’t.

Damn you, Wyoming!

Banjo Man ducked under the fence and walked up the hill to the fort. He wandered around a bit and took some pictures, but I stayed behind and guarded the truck.

Because I am so tough.

We are in Kansas now and have been since Sunday. I think we will be in Nebraska on Wednesday but I have lost track of the days. I know we are on the High Plains and I am grateful to live in the time of Netflix and not the age of the Westward Expansion and Conestoga wagons.

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day 4, saturday, road trip 2021

Yes, I know I skipped Day 3 but tonight at dinner I drank this.

Day 3 had been fantastic and I have pictures, but I drank tequila tonight and can’t feel my face. I will tell you about it tomorrow.

We went to dinner at Oscar’s Bar and Grill in Limon, Colorado tonight. It had been a long day on the road.

I’d had to get cranky with Banjo Man a few times. He thinks the GPS works immediately. He thinks the search engine on my phone works perfectly and easily in response to any question that pops in his head. He is frustrated when he has to wait more than ten seconds for an answer.

He demands directions from the GPS and then doesn’t believe them.

He eats constantly, meaning he wants me to find his chocolate or sunflower seeds or Triscuits or oyster crackers every fifteen miles or so.

I told him I felt like a vending machine.

He knew he’d pushed me too far today and wanted to make it up to me and go to dinner. I honestly would have been fine with my Honey Nut Cheerios again, but Banjo Man insisted.

I ordered a shot of tequila and a glass of ginger ale and lime. I mixed them.

It went straight to my head. Which was a very good feeling after 380 miles on the road with the Tapeworm.

Back at the hotel parking lot I tried to unlock the truck by pushing the security alarm button. Banjo Man’s face???? Priceless! I laughed til I cried, doubled over in front of the brand new La Quinta by Wyndham, while the alarm blared.

By the way, they accept pets here. One couple has two WOLVES. I kid you not.

So, Colorado. Land of weed and pet wolves.

And John Denver, too, and doesn’t that feel like a hundred years ago?

Good night.

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photos from day one of 2021 trip east

Hiway 200.
Snow on the Missions.
Clark Fork River.
Anaconda in the morning.

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