flurry of activity

This morning I told the contractor I loved him.

And I meant it.

Jim had just told me that he had put “painting the walls” into the bid the insurance company had approved.

That prompted my declaration of love, which seemed to surprise him.

He was here at ten o’clock this morning, along with Darrel-from-the-flooring-store. And Lisa-from-the-kitchen-cabinet store.

They were very busy measuring.

Lisa and Jim kept giving my kitchen the “how can anyone live like this” side looks. I wanted to say, “It’s not that bad.” But when looked upon by strangers who specialize in creating beautiful kitchens, I guess my inexpensive 30-year old kitchen does look pretty awful.

Lisa immediately asked if I was going to have the light over the sink centered. Yes, I would love that. Can I get that done? Really?

Darrel, who never smiles but seems like a nice guy, was very pleased with the vinyl plank flooring we picked out. He approved of Banjo Man’s choice, though I am still ambivalent. I’m sure I will love it when it is gleaming beautifully under my feet, but right now I think I’m floored out.

Yes, floored out. I made that up, but I think it’s a thing.

I never, never, never want to look at another flooring sample.

This is called Tiger’s Eye.

I got the bid from Stone Depot for my quartz counter. I doubt I will spend that much money on a counter, but I will confess it is tempting.

Banjo Man has an upset stomach and has gone downstairs for tea and crackers. He doesn’t know if it’s the stress from this remodel or last night’s leftover chili, but he is definitely suffering.

I told him to stay in his office for the rest of the day and to try not to think about what was going to happen upstairs in two weeks. We’ll get through it by moving down to the guest suite in the basement and it will all be good.

I need to go sew something now. And then pack a few more boxes. It’s all starting to get real.

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what a weekend

Sunset in Narragansett.

The brothers had a great weekend together.

They unloaded stuff from the basement and loaded up the shed. They went to the dump. They talked and laughed and got stuff done.

We went out for seafood. Twice.

We watched the Super Bowl and ate tons of food.

They cleaned the basement freezer, moved it to a different spot and loaded it up again. They set up the exercise area, with the addition of my office rug (gladly donated to the cause).

They ate meatballs.

It was all good. Getting together should become a February tradition.

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a ten-box day

This doesn’t look like much, but I have to admit it was a lot of work to fill those boxes. I thought I’d get a lot more done.

Silly me.

I now realize I still have Too Much Stuff, despite the past couple of years of Japanese and Swedish cleaning and decluttering.

I’m going to take a bit of a break today, because Harley Chick and Hot Rod Russ are coming for dinner tonight. And GL arrives at noon. I have brownies to bake and salad to toss and apples to peel.

I woke up at 4:30 thinking about everything that is going on in my house–right now and in the near future. So the only thing to do was to get up and make coffee, then look at Pinterest for kitchen counter ideas.

Banjo Man gets the nervous shakes whenever I talk about quartz or granite or Corian, but I’m learning to ignore him.

If you think about it, the kitchen counter is the most used place in the house. Aside from the floors, that is. So I have to get it right, even if it means waking up in the dark.

Wish me luck. This is going to take a while.

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4 degrees and getting ready

Getting ready for the remodel.

It has taken a long while, but the insurance company has finally approved our claim and, as they say, “the check is in the mail”.

I’m excited.

The contractor pointed me towards the local store with affordable kitchen cabinets. And after collecting over three dozen little flooring samples from the box stores and having no luck finding what we wanted, we have fallen in love with a flooring product carried by the flooring store in town.

So at last that particular stress is over, I think. We still have one more place to shop and then we’ll decide once and for all.

I just ordered see-through plastic bags from Amazon. And I have 25 banker’s boxes waiting to be filled. The contractor said he and his crew would pack everything up themselves, but I would really rather do it myself.

It’s only four degrees this morning, which isn’t bad considering what the folks in the upper Midwest are experiencing. It’s a good day to stay home and pack up most of my kitchen.

The china pantry alone is the stuff of nightmares.

But first, I need to pin this little quilt and get it off the dining room table.

My b-i-l GL is arriving tomorrow morning for a long weekend of basement projects, brother time, gatherings with friends and the Superbowl.

I’ve been so excited about his visit. It’s a long time since August. We have such fun together in the summer and I miss him. As does Banjo Man, though they talk on the phone all the time.

Take a good look at this picture. Things are going to change very soon!

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a birthday, twin oaks and tiramisu


On Wednesday my mother’s good friend Mary turned 90.  Since her daughter was in Florida and Mary has no family left in Rhode Island, Mom and I decided we would help her celebrate by going out to lunch.

This was not as simple as it sounds.

First of all, there was some confusion at Mom’s residence that gave us a late start.  And then after I stopped to pick up a bouquet of flowers in Warwick, I overshot the turn to Mary’s retirement apartment complex (off busy Route 2 and in a wooded residential area).  In my defense, I was attempting to decipher my mother’s garbled story of missing a shower and three nurses telling her something she was sure was wrong but she couldn’t remember what it was.

That’s where things became even more confusing.  I knew there was another way to get to Mary’s, and I knew I was close.  So I called Mary for her address so I could plug it into my GPS and negotiate the wooded back roads.

Mary couldn’t remember her address and had to go to her desk and find a bill with the address on it.  She wanted to know where we were, but there was no way I could explain it.

The GPS led me to the building in less than three minutes.  I took Mom to the side entrance, where we’d entered before, got out the walker, escorted her to the doors and then parked the car.  I called Mary and told her we’d arrived.  For some reason she thought we were at the Christmas Tree Shop, a store three miles away.

Mom and I made our way–excruciatingly slowly—into the building and down the hall to Mary’s door and knocked.  No answer.  I called Mary and told her we were standing in front of her door.  “No, you’re not,” she said.  “Because I’m standing in front of my door.”

We were obviously at the wrong building.  There are three of them and we were at the one in the woods and around the corner.  The GPS had sent me to the wrong building and, unfortunately, they are all identical.


Neither my mother or Mary could understand how I’d gotten mixed up, though, because after all I’d been there once before.

But this time I drove in from a different direction, I tried to explain.

The nonagenarians thought I was a bit dim.

(Yes, nonagenarians are people in their 90’s.  I looked it up.)

So we returned to the car, fighting the walker and the wind and the icy parking lot, and drove around the bend to–voila!– discover the other two buildings.  And we did it all–drop off, walker, doors, parking– again, only this time Mary was waiting at the door and we were in the right place.

I gave her the flowers.  She was thrilled.  She didn’t have a vase so we emptied her cookie jar and arranged the flowers while my mother rested on the couch.

And then we set off to Twin Oaks, a legendary Rhode Island restaurant in Cranston that began as a speakeasy in 1933.  It burned down in 1980 or so and was rebuilt.  If you live in Warwick or Cranston, the Twin Oaks is where you go for Sunday dinner or birthdays or business meetings or any kind of special meal with family and friends.  Its dark wood paneling hasn’t been changed since 1981, its booths are deep and plush, the waitstaff is friendly and the menu is extensive, from seafood to sandwiches to pasta to steak.

There are 23 items on the dessert menu, including jello.  It’s that kind of place.


Of course we got lost getting there.  It’s tucked into a neighborhood off the main road and there were inexplicably no street signs.  But we found the restaurant eventually.  And once the ladies were settled in our lovely, large booth, I immediately ordered tequila.

And it was delicious.

All three of us ordered Twin Oaks’ famous baked stuffed shrimp.  We ate every bite.  And then it was time for dessert.  Mary thought she was too full, but I told her she had to order something so we could put a candle in it and sing.

She thought I was joking.

And she had never heard of “tiramisu” before.

I thought she was joking.  You’re Italian, I said.  It’s a famous Italian dessert.

She ordered it.  Three handsome young waiters delivered it, candle flaming, and sang Happy Birthday.

The song was a hit, as you can see from the photo.  The tiramisu was pronounced delicious.  A good time was had by all.

I asked Mary what her favorite birthday was.  I expected a childhood story or two, but she told me she’d only had two birthday parties in her life:  her 80th, given by her daughter and this one.  She grew up in a very poor family where birthdays were not even acknowledged.

So I was very glad she’d ordered the tiramisu.

There was a bit of a bottleneck getting out of the restaurant, as two other parties with ladies with walkers were either trying to get out of the door or into the cars that had pulled up in front of the doors.  I saw one woman who had to be a hundred years old.  She wore tight black leather pants, gold hoop earrings and a blond wig.

As I tried to back up the car and leave the parking lot, Mary thought that a very rude driver was blocking my way.  Yes, the woman could have waited about thirty seconds before partially obstructing the drive, but she was intent on picking up a group of elderly people shivering at the front of the building.  Mary started yelling her disgust at such rude treatment, a surprising loud Italian tirade of epic proportions.

I didn’t realize until two minutes later, as I drove out of the parking lot without hitting any cars or people, that Mary’s window was wide open.

Of course I got lost on the way back to the apartment complex.  Because when a ninety-year old woman full of tiramisu tells you–seven times–to turn left at the flashing light, you end up driving down a long wintry road to the Rhode Island Beagle Club.

None of wanted a beagle, so I turned around and tried again.

Despite all of the confusion, the day had been a success.   What’s not to love about going out to lunch?


Posted in family, food, friends, rhode island | 4 Comments

i know you hate us


At least that’s what the media says.  Once again most of the country will be rooting against the Patriots in the Superbowl.  Do we care?  No.

I confess that last night’s game–one of the best in playoff history–was too stressful for me.  At the four-minutes-to-go mark I fled to my bedroom.  Yes, I am a wimp.  I just couldn’t watch.  Oh, I would check for updates on Twitter.  And Banjo Man would run in and give me news of the latest score.  But watching it on tv?  Just couldn’t do it!

Let me just say congratulations to Rex Burkhead, formerly a Nebraska Husker.  Big Red Nation is over-the-top PROUD.

It was 1 degree when I woke up this morning at 5:30.  I don’t think it’s expected to get about 9 all day.  The storm is over, leaving icy roads all over the state.  The sun is shining and the driveway looks dry.

Banjo Man is still asleep after an exciting evening on the couch.  He’s all worn out from that game.  Because today’s a holiday, I imagine there are a lot of football fans who are sleeping in this morning.

We have two weeks to rest up and plan our Superbowl Party menu.



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a good day’s work


Oh, what a difference a day makes!  Eight trees down, with one more to go next week.

And yesterday’s sunshine has turned into a major rainstorm.  If this rain was snow we’d be looking at a couple of feet of snow with more coming down every hour…until later this evening when the temps drop and everything turns to ice.  We’re expecting a wind chill temperature of -0 overnight and tomorrow.  Winter has arrived.

We’re staying home, today and tomorrow.  And if you live in the path of this latest storm, I hope that’s what you’re doing, too!



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a manly-man morning


We’re having a lot of old, big, dead trees removed from the property today.  Last fall a large branch fell and missed Banjo Man’s head by only a few feet–it was a lucky miss for all of us.  And definitely a sign that we needed to get rid of the dead wood.

And then there was this, last March, remember?

IMG_0740 (Edited)

Banjo Man says it feels like Christmas morning.  There are four young men here and they haven’t stopped moving since 8 AM.  I’ve been sitting here at the window, drinking coffee and watching the limbs fall and the boys dragging them off to the wood chipper.

It brings back memories of weekend mornings in Idaho when Banjo Man would head up to the woods to get firewood.  I was always so glad I wasn’t a man.  I liked my job–watching the children, making bread, cooking up a stew.  In other words, staying home.  Staying indoors.  Staying warm.

Banjo Man never said, “You need to help get your share of the firewood,” and I never said, “It’s your turn to make the bread dough.”

Oh, he did teach me how to operate the dozer.  And I shoved my share of wood into the wood stove to keep the house warm.  I shoveled a lot of snow (we had 13 steps up the hill to the road and Banjo Man was often away on business), which I thoroughly enjoyed.

But I was always happier in the kitchen while the “men folk” were off doing the things that made them happy.

So for old time’s sake I’m going to make a big pot of chili, just in case the young men didn’t pack lunches.

Old habits die hard.





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shopping before the storm


Yes, I admit it:  I bought fabric today.  I’ve been working on a baby quilt and realized that I didn’t have the one color I needed to make it look perfect.

Today was my day with Mom, so I asked her if she wanted to take a ride to Mystic to a little quilt shop there.  We have some nasty weather coming up, and nasty weather = great sewing time.

I’d planned to start packing up my kitchen in anticipation of the insurance-sponsored remodel, but Banjo Man will not be available to help (it’s going to take both of us to empty the special treasures above the cabinets) due to having old, dangerous trees removed on Saturday (you can’t imagine his excitement).  And on Sunday there is–of course–football.

In other words, this is a good weekend to cut fabric and design baby quilts.

I did find some great fabric at the quilt shop, despite the owner wanting to help me pick it out.  I don’t like it when they do that.  Selecting the fabric is my favorite part of quilting and I can do it myself, thank you very much and please go away.  

Mom and I went out to lunch and then took our time heading back to her place.   The sun was shining and we pretended it wasn’t January.

After taking Mom home, I went into town to the liquor store and bought tequila (remember the title of this blog post?).

And then I made a quick trip to the consignment store to see if they had any dining room chairs (they didn’t), but they did have this:


I absolutely loved this pitcher.  Did I buy it?  Go ahead and guess!


Posted in family, quilting, rhode island, shopping | 4 Comments

this and that

Just a few odds and ends to mention on this cold January morning:

We’re expecting our first big snowstorm Saturday night.  When and if the snow turns to rain is the big question and will determine how many inches of snow will need to be plowed from the driveway.


The Funny Grandson called last night to excitedly report a sighting of an osprey fishing in a creek in his Texas town.  He watched it for quite a while.  As you know, he is interested in all “birds of prey”, but especially enjoys the ospreys that nest near the lake house.


Remember him from last August?


Here’s something to make you shake your head:  Son #1, who teaches Advanced Placement U.S. History, brought his cd player into class last week.  More than a few of his students asked, “What is that?”


Oh, dear.


136 days until summer.  Who cares about snow?  Not me!



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