when your uncle is in town

…this is what you do.


Last month Uncle Will arrived for eight days of swimming, games, squirt gun fights, teasing and fishing.

There was some success in the fishing department.



They threw it back and hope to catch it again next summer.

There was also a lot of arrowhead hunting, of which Uncle Will is a master.  He found three in the first couple of days he was here, which is nothing short of a miracle.


I think they might be talking about Nebraska football.

It is now August 9 and the smoke from distant fires in California and Oregon are filling the skies.  It’s worse in the morning and eventually gets better as the day goes on.  So, for now, it’s bearable.

The Cougar Fire is about 8 miles away and burning slowly eastward (a good thing).  The fire crews have set up camp at the school for the time being.  I’m thinking I should bake some brownies and take them over there.  Banjo Man says there is no hungrier group than a fire crew.

This weekend is traditionally the busiest weekend of the summer in Sandpoint.  The music Festival concludes and the Arts & Crafts Festival is Saturday and Sunday.  The Sandpoint quilters are holding their biennial show and of course Saturday is the Farmer’s Market.  There is also a self-guided Artists Walk and Trail, too.

We won’t be attending the Festival Saturday night, but we’re going to try to hit the rest first thing Saturday morning.

I’ve spent a couple of days cleaning my office and the lower deck.  Now there is room for the music stuff and the sewing machine.  I’m getting prepared in case the smoke forces us indoors next week and there are no hours spent reading on the beach or floating on my inflated chaise lounge.

I love to float.  I tether my “chair” to the dock so I don’t drift into shore every ten minutes.  It’s ridiculous and heavenly at the same time.

The best things are.

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i have a ticket

Oh, my goodness!  Joshua Bell is performing at the Long Center in Austin October 6.  I’m going to this.  Can you believe it?  


“The Long Center and KMFA present an evening with Joshua Bell accompanied by pianist Sam Haywood, Saturday, October 6 in Dell Hall.

With a career spanning more than 30 years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and conductor, Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era. An exclusive Sony Classical artist, Bell has recorded more than 40 CDs garnering Grammy, Mercury, Gramophone and Echo Klassik awards and is the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize. Named the Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in 2011, he is the only person to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958.

Bell frequently plays with orchestras and at festivals world-wide, include appearances at Bravo! Vail Festival, Edinburgh Festival, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with BBC Proms in London, as well as virtually every major city across the globe. Apart from experimenting with music in technology & VR and constantly collaborating with orchestras and other projects, Bell currently serves as a senior lecturer at the Jacobs School of Music, his alma mater at Indiana University which has also honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Service Award. He has been named an “Indiana Living Legend: and is the recipient of the Indiana Governor’s Arts Award.

Bell performs on the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin and uses a late 18th century French bow by François Tourte.”

I’ll be in Austin that week, having promised the Funny Grandson that I would give him an “Early Birthday Party” again this year.  He loved having “two birthdays” and I loved doing it.  Will and I decorated the condo with all sorts of birthday stuff from the Dollar Store, plus the FG spent the night with us in South Austin and was able to stroll down the street to the local cafe for pancakes.  

Thank goodness it is so easy to make a seven year old happy.

And, speaking of happy, this woman is over the moon.  Joshua Bell!!  In person!!!


Posted in austin, music | 3 Comments

sunset clouds on a saturday night


Saturday night found us at the Floater, a restaurant that–yes–floats.  At the end of the bay.

The sunsets are always spectacular.


It was a time to catch up with our friend Linda.  We never run out of things to talk about, so we’re going to have some “girl time” next week and head to town for lunch and maybe even some shopping.

Though I don’t need anything.

Can you tell we had a great time together?



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banjo man’s new baby

Happy Birthday, Banjo Man!

img_1506.jpgThis is the new member of our musical instrument collection:  a plectrum banjo.  It’s a beautiful vintage instrument and is exactly what Banjo Man has been searching for.  It came from that hotbed of banjo players:  Utah.  (Huh?)

Do not ask me what a plectrum banjo is.  Banjo Man has explained it several times and I still don’t get the concept.  It is a 4-string banjo but not a tenor.  And there you  have it.

This morning we are going kayaking, in honor of Banjo Man’s birthday.  The lake is like glass right now and it is a bit cloudy.  As soon as I finish typing this I will tug on my bathing suit and find my life jacket.

Yesterday we actually went swimming!

This evening we’re heading to a fancy restaurant near Sandpoint for a special dinner.  I’m very excited about going out.  Last night I grilled marinated chicken breasts and steamed corn on the cob.

That just about did me in.  I would eat cheese and crackers and drink wine for every dinner for the rest of the summer.

We are still trying to adjust to Life Without The Grandson.  We were so spoiled having him here for an entire month.

Back to the banjo…Banjo Man is thrilled.  He is taking lessons on you tube, as the plectrum banjo has a different tuning than a tenor or a regular banjo and therefore all the chords are new and different.

So, happy birthday!  Pluck away!




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pure joy


Do you remember the summer when you were old enough–and brave enough–to take that first leap off the dock (or the diving board or, in my case, the float?

It’s big.  Really big.

And this summer was the Funny Grandson’s  time to be brave and jump.

And then he jumped again.  A lot.  As in maybe seventy times.

What a feeling!

(This might be my favorite photo of the summer).



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close call


photo from alaskapublic.org

Since 1971 I’ve looked for a moose in the shady ponds by the Pack River Bridge every time we’ve driven to town.  There have been three–three–spottings.  Always a thrill.

I think I saw one in a distant field while I was driving through Yellowstone years ago, one of those, “Wait! Wow!  Was that a moose?” as we sped past at 40 mph.

That was it for moose.

Until Saturday.

Banjo Man and I had headed east to Clark Fork to return the Funny Grandson’s library books and get ice cream at the Pantry.  Son #1 was entertaining friends at the house and their son and the FG were making friends with each other on the beach.  We did our errands and ate our “baby” ice cream cones and resisted buying freshly baked bread and pastries before heading back to the lake to grill hot dogs and hamburgers for the younger generations.

Clark Fork has very little cell phone coverage, so as we were a mile or two from the town and heading home, my phone pinged.  There was a text message from Dancing Mandolin Player answering a question I’d sent about seating at the night’s big fundraiser for the community center.  I began to read it out loud to Banjo Man, who loves to listen to anything newsy or informative from my little electronic world.

And that’s what saved us.  Banjo Man had both hands on the wheel and his full attention on the road (as opposed to his typical admiring the gorgeous scenery or looking for herons out of his side of the car).

Next thing I knew–as I was describing DMP’s opinion of her raspberry-filled kitchen–the brakes squealed, Banjo Man yelled and I looked up to see our windshield filled with moose.

We braced ourselves for the crash.  It was going to be bad.

A car coming in the opposite direction braked and squealed as the panicked animal somehow escaped hitting our car and ran across theirs.  And then it was gone, into the wetlands of the Clark Fork River slough.

We were all very, very lucky.  A second either way would have meant disaster.  A female moose can weigh between 440 and 790 pounds and can stand 7 feet tall at the shoulder.


photo from gohunt.com

You wouldn’t expect a moose to run out of a wooded ditch on the mountain side of the road.  Not at 1:30 in the afternoon.  But…when you’re driving in this part of the country you have to be ready for anything at any time.

So no more gawking at the lake or the river.  Hands on the wheel!  Eyes on the road!

We’re not going to press our luck.





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still moping

Yes, Banjo Man and I are still moping around wishing the Funny Grandson and his parents and his uncle were back at the lake with us.

We’re trying to rally.

In fact, one of the Montana Kathy’s is coming over to sit on the dock with me this afternoon.  We are going to drink espresso root beer floats and talk about life.

This evening My French Friend Janou and her husband are coming over for dinner on the porch.  I have defrosted some spicy pulled pork and made coleslaw.  We will load up tortillas and then eat peaches and homemade ice cream.

(I’m not pleased with the peaches.  The first peaches of the season are never my favorites, though I buy them because I just have to buy peaches, of course.  I just peeled 20 of them and had to add lemon, sugar and cinnamon to punch up the flavor.)

We have been talking about what we’ll do on Banjo Man’s birthday next week and I think we’ve decided to go to a fancy restaurant on the other side of town.  Fancy restaurants are not usually what we gravitate towards, but we’re determined to do something adventurous.

Speaking of adventurous, yesterday Banjo Man went swimming.  How is that adventurous, you ask?  Well, if you knew how cold this lake is you’d be impressed.  Most people dive in, yelp and come up for air sputtering, “Well, that was refreshing!”

Refreshing is a nice way to say “this water is so cold I can’t feel my feet”.

I have not gone in yet.  There are some hot days coming up next week so it’s sure to happen soon.

Tomorrow I will tell you about the moose.


Once a year Banjo Man takes a nap on the dock.




Posted in family, friends, lake | 1 Comment

return to blogging

I can’t believe it has been almost a month since I’ve posted anything on the blog.

And I have so much to say!!!

The reason I’ve been silent?  Well, the Funny Grandson has been here since June 23 and I have been nowhere near my computer during that time.  We have had SO MUCH FUN.

Banjo Man and I are pretty sad and pathetic this morning.  Yesterday we drove Son #1 (Ben aka Bass Guitar Man aka Song Man)  and the FG to the airport to start their journey home to Texas.  It was 107 in Austin Monday.   They were heading into a heat wave in an already hot area.

The FG was sad about leaving Idaho, but very happy to see his mother again.  It had been more than two weeks without her, which is a very long time when you are seven.

On the ride to the airport he explained that he had “conflicting” feelings.  Yes, he used the word “conflicting”.  The kid loves Idaho, what can I say?

Banjo Man and I did a few errands on the way home from the airport and ended up in a Sandpoint restaurant for lunch.   Neither one of us was in a hurry to go back to an empty house and leftover hot dogs.  Once we were back at the lake (temperature 91-wow), I fell asleep in a chair for an hour.  I finished up the frozen peanut butter pie for dinner and Banjo Man ate a salad much later, after the sun went down.  We attempted to cheer ourselves up by watching an episode of “Anne with an E”, season 2, on Netflix, but it wasn’t the same as playing Mexican Train dominoes with the grandson.

Today the house is very quiet and empty.  I did not make blueberry pancakes or scramble three eggs or fix a bowl of berries for my happy little house guest.

The only excitement was when we heard the barge crossing the bay with a big crane.  The FG loves to watch the barge head out to the lake.  But when the motor stopped and smoke billowed out of the tugboat?  When it drifted into shore to the former resort across the bay?  Was it planned or just bad luck?

The FG would have had his binoculars in hand, spouting theories and questions as the smoke puffed into the sky.


See the white house on the far right?  I need to call the friend who lives there and arrange a dinner date at the floating restaurant this weekend.  Banjo Man’s birthday is coming up next week.  We need to celebrate!

In the upcoming posts, I’ll tell you about our brush with death, the lake quality scare, the 4th of July and various other adventures.   It has been a busy month food-wise, too, with blueberry pound cakes, raspberry Oreo pies, a chocolate fountain and berry picking.

As the saying goes…


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the perfect chilly afternoon chore


In case you’re wondering, they’re burning driftwood.  Lots and lots of wood has ended up on our beach this year.  And it keeps coming in.

The two big guys and the one little guy have built a fire in the stone-rimmed pit by the beach and are busy getting rid of what they can.  The Funny Grandson has a squirt gun, but I’m not sure why and I’m certainly not going down there to ask.

I do know that this is the perfect way for all three of them to spend their time today.  Later on there will be s’mores to cook over the coals, should any of them have the energy to come up the hill and get the ingredients.

My daughter-in-law and I are hiding up in the house.  Relaxation time at last!


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he’s baaaaack


The Funny Grandson has returned to the lake for the fourth summer in a row.  He and his mom arrived Saturday night, as did Banjo Man.  I had a happy car full of family and suitcases on the way home from the airport!

Want to know how cold it is?  Well, if you look at the above picture you will notice that the kid with the plate of blueberry pancakes in front of him is wearing his winter jacket.  He insisted on having breakfast on the chilly porch so he could “see the lake”.

And it’s not exactly summer here yet.  We don’t know where summer is or when it is going to arrive.  The 10-day forecast is not looking good.

But strangely enough, we’re having one hell of a good time despite the temperature.  Our visiting Texans are pleased to be out of 100 degree heat.

The Funny Grandson’s father is stuck in Dallas at a week-long educational conference and has made some very, very sad phone calls to us.  He is feeling pathetic and left out.

We’ll see him Monday.

In the meantime we’ll keep driving around the peninsula each day “counting deer” (24 sightings today, 28 yesterday).  And going to Clark Fork for ice cream and the library.  We eat cookies and Bing cherries and hamburgers.  Tomorrow we’re making our own huckleberry ice cream and hoping it turns purple.  We chase the geese off the beach.  And watch the sunsets from the dock.  Oh, and we play Super Heroes UNO.  We’ve been to the Cabinet Gorge Dam to watch the giant waterfalls and even drove east far enough to see the “Welcome to Montana” sign.

And we spent three hours searching for the FG’s life jacket this morning.  It was finally discovered inside a cooler under a stack of plastic tablecloths.

Life is good.




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