The Outlaws made Headlines. The Lawmen made History.

We watched this movie Friday night on Netflix. “The Highwaymen” are two Texas Rangers who come out of retirement to put a stop to Bonnie and Clyde’s murder spree. It’s based on a true story–Kevin Costner’s character was known to have been the greatest Texas Ranger in history–and it certainly gave a sense of the Depression.

Neither one of us knew anything about the Texas Rangers and their undercover mission. In a world without satellites, cell phones, computers, GPS, helicopters and drones, catching stone cold killers was not a simple process.

We thoroughly enjoyed it, perhaps more because I needed a little violence in my life after the wrong kitchen counter had been delivered earlier in the day.

And poor Banjo Man was loaded up with pain pills after his morning root canal, so he was happy to relax and watch a movie where he knew the ending.

In other words, we’re giving this a “two thumbs up” from the basement!

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what’s wrong with this picture?

Hint: it’s the sink cutout.

Yesterday, after waiting three weeks for this counter (and for the finishing stages that would follow next week) the counter company guys arrived and unloaded my lovely “solid surface” (aka Corian) counter in three pieces.

Oh, the excitement!! Its installation meant that next week the construction crew could return and tile the back splash, install the missing cabinet doors and hook up the sink and dishwasher. And then I could have my new gas stove installed!

But no…because the idiot who came to measure and make a template two weeks ago had–for some mysterious reason–countermanded all the typed instructions on the contract and scrawled, “DROP IN SINK” over the order.

I do not have a drop in sink. I have an undermount sink. It actually can go either way, but we’d stipulated an undermount installation.

I honestly think the guy who came to measure and make the template was high on something. He was overly cheerful and energetic and didn’t want me asking too many questions. He kept telling me it was all going to be beautiful, even when I reminded him I was told he would take the sink with him to make sure the counter was cut properly. He said no, don’t worry, it’s all going to be perfect.

Liar. Idiot.

So now the counter pieces have been taken away and the folks at the counter company have promised us (ha!) that they will install the proper counter by next Friday.

So another week goes by.

I cannot unpack the silverware or fill the lower cabinets with pots and pans and little appliances. The boxes are stacked to the ceiling in the bedroom and will have to wait another week or two.

I was so furious. There was no one to take it out on, because the screw up wasn’t the installers’ faults. Poor Banjo Man was suffering from his root canal earlier in the day and was in no shape to listen to my ranting. “Tammy” at the counter company had apologized and promised what she could–installation next week– but I am sure she was lying. I had to call the contractor back and tell him we weren’t ready for a plumber and tile next week after all.

Then I drove down to Westerly to “eat my feelings” by purchasing hot dogs and buns. I could no longer wait for summer and the grill on the porch. Indigestion would keep me awake until 3 AM, so it wasn’t the best decision, but a craving is a craving, even though I was still furious and frustrated long after eating the hot dogs for dinner. Tonight I will be content with yogurt.

I know I sound like a “Whiny Girl” (a nickname for one of our dogs who would annoyingly whine about anything), but let me review:

The sink flood was the day after Thanksgiving. The insurance company lost our claim in their computer. By the time it was straightened out–after Banjo Man made several LOUD phone calls–it was December 17.

December 20th Jim The Contractor came to look at the job of replacing a cabinet or two and most of the upstairs flooring.

February 8: Jim and the Snobby Kitchen Designer arrived, along with the Flooring Guy, to measure the kitchen. Jim would not return with his crew to demo the kitchen and floors until MARCH 8!!!

The kitchen cabinets arrived the following week and–lo and behold!–the size was wrong. The Snobby Kitchen Designer had screwed up. There would be a delay of two weeks while new ones were ordered.

The lower cabinets were installed and then the flooring, which went like clockwork over two days.

The crew–lovely sweet young men–would work elsewhere and return to our house when the upper cabinets arrived.

But when that happened–happy day!–THREE of the cabinet doors were defective and had to be reordered. “Made in America” had let us down.

This meant I could not line the shelves or unpack dishes and glassware.

And still can’t.

We had the new gas range delivered but not installed (we were wrongly told that the counter-measuring guy needed it). The door is faulty and won’t open all the way and the propane conversion kit we’d paid for was not included.

This was not a cheap stove.

We bought it from a local, family-owned appliance store and they have been nice about promising to fix everything whenever I am able to have the thing installed.


This whole thing has been quite an experience.

I will not bore you with descriptions of Home Depot salespeople with their heads in their computers and no desire to help anyone (my friend Sharon had the exact same experience last week while trying to buy a refrigerator) or the vast empty wasteland that is Lowe’s counter and kitchen department. I suggest, if you are shopping there, to bring a megaphone so you can shout for assistance.

As Banjo Man pointed out, this was a pretty small remodel project and a lot of things have gone wrong. What on earth goes on in a big project? How many screw ups happen when building a house?

It’s mind boggling.

Today I am going to try to figure out how I can make any kind of progress in the house. Any little bit would help, so it’s time for more coffee and a serious analysis of the tasks ahead. Without bothering Banjo Man, who is suffering. And without having a temper tantrum.

Wish me luck.

Posted in rhode island, shopping | 4 Comments

going once…

The Shelter Harbor Inn, about 20 minutes south of here, had been sold. A farm in the 1800’s, an Inn in 1911, a music colony for composers, a little destination resort with 24 rooms, large restaurant and two tennis courts, Shelter Harbor seems to have been in our little corner of Rhode Island forever.

Son Will worked in the catering department for many college summers.

But it had been sold to a pair of local entrepreneurs who intended to gut the place, totally redesign it (the Hollywood designer was there to hang out for a while) and reopen as a live music venue with a restaurant.

Even the signs were on sale.

Saturday was the big day for the auction. I’d seen the large white tent for over a week, but I hadn’t intended to go. Being deathly afraid of buying something unnecessary I’d decided it was best not to be tempted. But Banjo Man? He woke me before 7 AM Saturday morning, calling “Let’s go, the preview is at 8!”

This was the same man who had been suffering from a toothache for the last four days. He’d been eating chicken soup–I’d made a vat of it in the crock pot–and downing Tylenol.

So off we went and, thank goodness, there was a ton of old stuff but not “old in a good way”. The inn had fallen onto hard times a few years ago, so there were lots of bargains in the “furniture tent”. After roaming through the furniture and then the various rooms on the main floor, Banjo Man declared there was only one thing he wanted: a metal dolly in the “tool tent”.

“That will be the last place they auction off,” I warned him. But one of the auctioneers assured him that they would get there sooner than later.

He fibbed.

I found a comfy chair and settled in–until they sold the chair (there were two dozen of them). Then we left the Inn and went down the road to have breakfast.

Arriving back less than an hour later there hadn’t been much progress. They were auctioning everything from the long oak bar to a case of paper cups. A lot of the stuff looked like it should have gone straight to the dump.

Lots of interest for the hundreds of pots and pans and baking sheets. I repeatedly told myself I no longer had a need for a dozen baking sheets and kept my hand from waving in the air.

There were two rooms filled with dishes and glasses. Tables, cloths, chairs, everything! I did lose my mind for five minutes and bought four bentwood chairs (from the lounge) for $5 each.

A temporary solution to our chair problems.

We need dining room chairs, but I am so tired of making design and decorating decisions. Banjo Man is super fussy about seating and I just don’t have the energy. These will do, at least until next fall when we can shop with more enthusiasm than desperation.

Here’s something I insanely coveted:

A catering cooler.

I wanted this for no other reason than I thought it would be a cool thing to have for a party. Banjo Man said it was falling apart and wasn’t impressed. It was in the tool tent and went for $5.00.

Ah, the tool tent…

It was now FOUR O’CLOCK and we had been there for 8 hours. At 3:00 I took a break and drove to Wendy’s for a cold drink and then to Home Goods to look at pretty Easter things. Banjo Man stayed behind and watched as more dishes, more glasses, more chairs, etc. were sold before the crowd went down to the tool tent.

The stuff under the tool tent was all that remained and at 4:15 Banjo Man, me and one of the auction crew were the only people in the tent. They tried to round up more people to continue the auction, but could only come up with two more as everyone else had bought what they wanted or left empty-handed. No one was interested in a dozen toilets, porcelain sinks or boxes of electrical outlets. Imagine that.

Needless to say, Banjo Man won his dolly for $5.00. To me it looked like a baking pan on wheels but my husband declared it the bargain of the day and proudly shoved it into the back of the car with my $5 chairs.

He was beyond thrilled which, my friends, clearly illustrates the difference between men and women.

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april flowers

A gift from my friend Barbara, these tulips certainly brighten up the basement. I had no idea where the vases were packed, so I used the bottom half of my Dutch windmill cookie jar. Very appropriate!

I love tulips.

Tomorrow Banjo Man has his first root canal and the crew from Lowe’s installs the new counter.

My tiny counter sample, a Corian-like product.

I hope both procedures are performed perfectly–with no pain and no surprises.

I’ll keep you posted.

Posted in family, friends, rhode island | 1 Comment

in search of…

These excursions can be fun or epic failures. I never know how the day is going to end up.

Last Thursday I took my 93-year old mother out for our weekly adventure. And oh, yes, it’s always an adventure.

I made the mistake of offering to buy her a new door decoration to celebrate Spring. She got a bit huffy and said she wanted to pick it out herself. Which meant a trip to Michael’s. I had intended yesterday to be just a drive and lunch. No shopping. Last week’s trip to the eye doctor and lunch had been horrendous. I had come home and cried into my tequila cocktail for long, long minutes.

But this was a new week. Okay, I could do this. I’ve done a Door Decoration Trip to Michael’s in December. My modest, no-frills, traditional mother ended up buying a white fake fur wreath with silver balls that would have made Liberace proud.

This time she wanted a wreath covered with spring flowers. She wanted a small one. Unfortunately the seventy or so wreaths on display were large or medium sized. Which meant my mother spent over an hour staggering around the aisles of Michaels with her walker as she waited in vain for the wreaths to start shrinking.

Amazingly, no amount of mind control or sheer stubbornness made those floral wreaths shrink. At one point in the morning I gathered up several other contenders–a flower-covered basket that said “Welcome”, a metal pot of metal flowers–and suggested we buy both of them and take them back to her place. I would return either one or both if they didn’t work on her door.

Now I know some of you crafty people out there are thinking, “Doesn’t More Pie know that she could buy a small straw wreath and decorate it herself with some of the hundreds of silk flowers Michael’s sells? It would be so EASY.”

No, it wouldn’t. Sorry. I would rather stab myself in the eye with a silk lilac stem than craft a wreath. It would look like crap and would end up in the dumpster the contractor parked in our driveway last month.

(By the way, the dumpster is still here and Banjo Man is still in love with it.)

As we made one more slow round of the spring decorations aisles, I spotted a round wooded sign with a bunny painted on it. My mother’s face lit up and I realized we might possibly be at the end of our quest. I rushed to the cashier with the bunny sign and the metal flower pot hanger before Mom could change her mind again.

Then we celebrated by having lunch at Ninety Nine next door. I highly recommend the Chicken Fried Dinner with mashed potatoes. Mom loves the burgers. She managed to eat quite a bit of hers, which was good to see.

The bunny is on the door and is a big hit at the Assisted Living home. Much better than a giant wreath, don’t you think?

Posted in family, rhode island, shopping | 2 Comments

happy birthday to nancy!

Our sweet girl is 39 today. Imagine that!

I have searched for a childhood photo of her, but I’m having trouble. Everything is still packed and I’m operating from one small corner of my office, which I am so happy to have back after over three weeks in the basement.

We’re still in the basement, but I’ve reclaimed a few spots upstairs. Heaven!

So happy birthday, Nancy. The sun is shining and the sky is blue, so enjoy.

Yesterday we took Nancy and my mother out to breakfast at Denny’s, about half an hour or so north of here. We all love breakfast, so it was a no brainer.

Mom and I have eaten there several times this winter–the handicapped parking is great and the waitstaff are so darned nice–but Banjo Man and NancyK had never joined us.

We partied with pancakes, French toast, eggs, bacon, sausage and hash browns. So much fun! The place was packed.

The waiter came over while we were inhaling all those carbs and asked Banjo Man if his name was “Bob”. No, my husband said. “I’m not Bob.”

“Well, the old gentleman over there thought he knew you.”

“Not me”, Banjo Man said, putting down his fork. I knew he wouldn’t be able to resist and of course, off he went to meet the man who thought he was Bob. He didn’t return for a while and was deep in conversation with the elderly man (who would turn out to be 95) dining alone in the corner.

When Banjo Man returned to the table he told us that “Mr. Kiley” thought he knew him from the Knights of Columbus. They’d had a great conversation and planned to meet for lunch in a few weeks. Mr. Kiley’s wife of 65 years had died and he was lonely. He was also a World War II veteran.

This wasn’t the first time Banjo Man had been mistaken for someone else. Years ago in Austin a famous 70’s rocker was thrilled to see Banjo Man in the audience because he was convinced he had been in his band way back when. Banjo Man had a hard time convincing him that he wasn’t his former guitarist in the London rock scene.

Nancy opened presents and loved her new “Robots in Rowboats” print. She discovered the artist at a shop in Austin last December. Check it out on Etsy.

Here’s last year’s birthday blog picture. One of these weeks I’ll be able to recover my boxes of photos and access my bookshelves again!

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a turtle or a cutting board?

Saturday I went off to buy another cabinet knob at Lowe’s and search the secondhand stores for a small bookcase for the living room. I also looked for interesting copper pieces to tone down my bright white kitchen and bring out the color of the floor.

Hopefully. It’s just a theory right now.

But in the search for a little bookcase, I came across this chunk of wood that was described as a cutting board.

It has the cutest legs. Not that a turtle has actual legs, but still…
Banjo Man calls it an Aztec turtle, because it’s hand carved and looks primitive.

We’ve agreed it is something that son Will would have bought if he’d seen it first, so maybe he’ll get it for Christmas.

Posted in rhode island, secondhand stuff, shopping | 1 Comment

oh, happy monday!

I was all set to whine today. This blog post was going to describe my frustration at needing “one more day” of the work crew in order to finish the rooms upstairs so we could move our furniture and clothes back into place. And not knowing when that “one day” would be. This week? Next week? Should I fly down to Texas for a few days before I self-implode?

On Saturday Nelson, the adorable finish carpenter, said he didn’t know when he would return or when anyone else would.

I was crushed. Then I thought they must be waiting for the three replacement cabinet doors (three had arrived defective, damn it) before they returned to finish it all up.

Saturday morning.

The pantries and the closets all needed their baseboard trim either replaced or put back into place. The new baseboard needed its nail holes covered and repainted. It would be lovely when finished, but the magic word is “finished”. Because then and only then could I wash the new vinyl plank floors and put the furniture back into place as I wait for the kitchen counter and all the rest of the stuff that has to be done before I am cooking again.

I will confess to a cranky Sunday. I even ate two ice cream bars, but the topic of ice cream bars is another story.

So imagine my shock and awe when at 7 AM the construction van drove up. Banjo Man and I were still in bed–I was recounting my dream (driving around town with a giant, live tree planted and growing in my car)–when the guys arrived.

Oh, joy!

Saturday night.

Please do me a favor and take a moment and admire the bronze knobs and pulls on the cabinets and drawers. Choosing these only took 217 hours of my life that I will never get back. They have an interesting pattern that will complement the future tiled back splash. I had to go up to Lowe’s twice because somewhere in the process knob #19 disappeared from the face of the earth and I had to buy another one.

I have a few things to say about Lowe’s but, like the ice cream bars, that will have to wait for another time.

So this morning as I sit here at my makeshift desk and drink coffee I am listening to the lovely sounds of sawing and banging and hammering from “the boys” upstairs.

We are thrilled.

Posted in rhode island | 1 Comment

go ahead, light up my life

I ordered the most beautiful, odd, gorgeous chandelier from Wayfair.com last month. The whole lamp-ordering thing made me more than a little nervous. What if I ordered the wrong thing and had to live with it until I died? What if I hated it and I had to look at it every freakin’ day?

My friend Ruth heard me stressing over this and said, “Just buy what you love and it will be fine. Who cares if it matches anything?”

Well, I took her advice. I loved this darn chandelier and it was in the “bronze family”, which meant it wouldn’t clash with the light over the dining room table. I wanted “bling”. I wanted “fancy”. I wanted something…different.

I opened the box yesterday morning and saw the pretty frame. Underneath was a box containing 178 glass balls, a bag of u-shaped wire thingies and various other pieces only an electrician could identify. The directions said to insert one end of the wire into the glass ball and bend it, then insert the other end into the little hole in the frame and twist.

It took me almost all day. At first I sat on the floor. Then I moved the whole process to a table. It’s a good thing I like intense craft projects, because this one was a challenge. Banjo Man gave me his needle nose pliers and I positioned a couple of lights so I could see what I was doing.

One-hundred and seventy glass balls were individually wired onto the lighting fixture. It’s quite impressive. Banjo Man keeps staring at the finished product and muttering, “What the hell is that going to look like when there are lights in it?”

We are definitely going to need to put this on a dimmer, because we’re going to sparkle.

I am also going to buy one heck of a feather duster.

Posted in rhode island, shopping | 1 Comment

life in the basement continues

Banjo Man and I realized this morning that we have been living in the basement for two weeks.

It doesn’t feel that long. The fact is that the basement has the best shower and the biggest bed of any in the house. I brought the HD box from upstairs, so the tv -watching has not been affected. We have plenty of meals in the freezer and have also been going out to eat once in a while, so we are not suffering in the least.

In fact, Banjo Man is wondering why we need such a big house when we are so content living in our three-room suite. We have a studio apartment, a bathroom and an office down here. I pointed out that we cannot cook and cannot entertain, which I hope put a stop to any speculation about living here permanently.

This quilt finally found a home.

Eventually–if I wait long enough–my wild quilts land in the right places. This quilt was a particular favorite, as I made it from a Kaffe Fassett pattern and used the same (or almost the same) fabrics. I wanted to study his color and pattern choices so I could understand how to put fabrics together in pleasing ways. It was my own little class on how to use color successfully and it was quite an eye-opener.

Happy Spring, everyone!

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