making progress


Banjo Man said this quilt would be a “pleasant jolt” to our visitors.  I think that’s hilarious.  Maybe that describes more than a few of my wild quilts!

And here is a picture I took in front of a restaurant across the street from the Post Office.  If this doesn’t look like fall I don’t know what does.


How did they lift that giant pumpkin on top of the table?


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the woodpecker war

It’s that time of year again.  The woodpeckers arrive and attempt to drill holes in the cedar trim of our house.


The noise is really something, so several times a day Banjo Man and I open the back door or front door and yell, “Hey!  Get out of here!

It’s good we live in the woods and no one can hear us but the woodpeckers.  Not that they care, really.  We’ll get a couple of hours of peace and then the noise–both the woodpeckers and ours– begins again.

I’ve read that installing something shiny might help, but neither my husband or I will be getting on a ladder to staple aluminum foil 15 feet high.

So we yell.   And wait for winter.



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happy birthday to will


Aboard the Captain Morgan in Mystic, CT last month.

I call this “Will’s running for President” photo!  Let’s hear the speech, Will.  We’re waiting!

He’d rather go fishing.


I call this Will’s “Hippie Texan Goes Fishing” photo.

Happy Birthday to my sweet Son #2, who brightens our world in more ways than I can count.


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a rainy day project

I made this quilt top–a spiderweb pattern from scraps–a few years ago during a mini-nervous breakdown while writing my last three novels (THE HUSBAND SCHOOL, etc.).  My whining was well-documented here on the blog.  Unfortunately.


This sucker measures 77″ x 77″ and it’s going to go on a huge blank wall down in the basement entry, which is also going to be our exercise room.  Banjo Man and I have gotten rid of a lot of “stuff” these past few years in order to turn the room from a dark and cluttered storage space into an airy and pretty entry/exercise room complete with a painted floor, rug, heating and television.

I was thrilled when Banjo Man asked if I had a colorful quilt for the wall.  Do I have a colorful quilt?

Oh, my, yes I do!!  Take your pick!!!

So today I am going to attempt to machine-quilt it.  There are a lot of layers of fabrics to stitch through so I’m not sure my sewing machine can handle it, but I’m going to try because I have no idea what to do with it otherwise.  It has been pin-basted and ready to go since last winter.  So after another cup of coffee I’ll get all my compression gear on and limit myself to an hour at a time–this thing is heavy–so I don’t aggravate the lymphedema.  It’s a good project for a dark and rainy day.

My visits with my physical therapist and radiologist on Monday didn’t go as well as I thought they would.  I’m losing the battle with internal scarring–from both the surgery and the radiation–and have to add different exercises into my twice-daily routine.  I’d been diligent with stretching but it clearly wasn’t enough.

Janet–my cheerful, chatty, opinionated physical therapist–lectured me on expectations, mine and others.  She warned that people would look at me and think I was fine because I look healthy, but she pointed to my chest and said, “But there’s a lot going on in there and you can’t live up to other people’s expectations.  This is going to take a long time.”

It was a lot to take in.  Especially the “long time” part.  I want to be all better NOW.

So I was pretty dejected.  The radiologist wasn’t all that helpful either.  Banjo Man tried to cheer me up with a chicken dinner at Cracker Barrel on the way home, but that didn’t work.  He even tried pointing out sweaters in the gift shop that he thought I should buy.  I tried on a couple of furry vests so he wouldn’t worry about me, but they looked awful or weren’t the right size and then–thank God–we were on our way home.  I needed my couch, I needed a pain pill and I needed a box of tissues.

I am still feeling very sorry for myself, but I’m trying to keep busy.  Janet taught me how to start building up my stamina and I am now doing short amounts of brisk walking on the treadmill every day.  It feels good.

One step at a time, I guess.  




Posted in family, quilting, rhode island, the cancer fight | 1 Comment

lucky day


I won one of the raffle baskets at the quilt show!  It’s a huge basket of notions and quite a haul of goodies.

My favorite notion?


I’ve wanted Wonder Clips for a long time.  When I am piecing 120 blocks and need to put them into piles of ten to make it easy to count?  Bring on the Wonder Clips!

And what about these?


I do so like pins.  Especially when they’re “pretty”.  Hah!

Hilariously, Banjo Man stood next to me and examined every single thing I pulled out of the basket.  He especially liked the quilting books (three of them!) and a pin cushion shaped like a sewing machine.

We are headed north today for a follow up physical therapy session and then to the cancer center for a check up with the radiologist.  I expect both sessions to go well.  I wouldn’t mind getting a few answers as to the source of the lingering pain and what to do about it and how long it’s going to last, but I’ve learned that no one offers much information.

It’s good to have Banjo Man home and I’m glad he’s driving me today.  I think I could do it myself but we’re still being cautious.  Which is fine with me!




Posted in family, quilting, rhode island, the cancer fight | 3 Comments

surviving the red eye

I met Banjo Man at the airport at 9:15 this morning.  He was happy to see me and very, very tired.

“I will never fly Delta or United again,” he declared.  “It was the worst experience I’ve ever had.”

Extremely small seats, the last seats on the plane in the back and very annoying seat mates made it impossible to sleep.

He is napping now.

But his trip to the lake was wonderful.  He told me he’d eaten 25 meatballs.  Huh?  I didn’t know I’d frozen so many.  And I didn’t know he counted meatballs, either.

The chess set made of farm machinery is now proudly displayed in the office of the lake house.  I hope there will be many, many chess games played there next summer and in the years to come.  It was a project dear to my husband’s Nebraska heart and he is immensely proud to have it finished.

It was a long five days here without him, but I accomplished a lot of decluttering in my office.  Nothing had happened in here for many months, except for the piles getting higher.

My grandson “Face Timed” me last night.  A first!  We beamed at each other and I admired his new short hair cut.  I hope we get to chat like that again.

My favorite song of the weekend turned out to be a Bonnie Raitt number, “Home”.



Posted in family, music, rhode island | 1 Comment

quilting turkeys and more

Did I go to the quilt show?  Yes!  I stayed less than hour (and took a three-hour nap when I got home) but I drove myself to Westerly on a cool, sunny day.  Power was out in two towns along the way, so the traffic lights weren’t working and many stores along the road were dark, including Wendy’s and the liquor store.  I saw a lot of trucks from National Grid, though.  They were clearly on the job.


I loved this.  It was so cleverly done.


Such a brilliant use of fabrics.

Here are more pictures:


Stunning.  I can’t imagine making this and I am in awe.


Check out all the little strings of fabric sewn together.


This reminded me of lakes and mountains.  I loved it.

The man with the gorgeous vintage sewing machines was there.  He’s always a hit with the quilters.


I bought raffle tickets and resisted buying fabric (which was surprisingly easy).  Then I was out of there, off to buy Band Aids and batteries at CVS before heading home for a three-hour nap.

One of these days I will have my stamina back.  I’ve been warned it can take 3-4 months after radiation ends to be back to normal.

So…I am happy to have a comfy couch and lazy afternoons.

Tomorrow morning I will head to the airport and retrieve Banjo Man, who is taking the red-eye tonight from Spokane.  Hurray!



Posted in family, quilting, rhode island | 1 Comment

the mighty wind


We had a surprise storm Wednesday night that lasted through much of Thursday.  I woke up to hear the radio weatherman exclaim, “It should have had a name!”

Yes, the storm was worse than anyone thought it would be and had been big enough to be called Harold.  Thousands of people lost power (and many still don’t have it) all over our area, but so far I’m totally plugged in and operating fine.

I watched that huge limb fall onto the old basketball court yesterday.  I’d heard a strange sound and turned to the window in time to see it fall.  It looks like most of the tree is on the ground.  The picture doesn’t do it justice.

During lulls in the wind I ran outside and dragged other branches from the driveway.  They weren’t too big to move but no one would have wanted to drive over them.

Banjo Man is at the lake.  He is meeting with clients and helping brother George close things up for the winter.  He has defrosted meatballs and bags of frozen sliced peaches, so I like to think I’m there in spirit–or at least at the dining room table.

While he is partying 3000 miles away I am binge-watching “The Looming Tower” on Hulu when not decluttering my office (totally out of control) or throwing out clothes that remind me of last summer.

This weekend the Ninigret Quilters hold their biennial quilt show and I always go.  Two years ago I won a huge basket of fabric and goodies at the raffle, which was exciting (especially since I was at the ER with my mother all day and Banjo Man had to go pick up the basket for me).  I’m debating about going by myself this morning.  Driving is tiring, but I can come home and take a nap.  The show isn’t all that big and walking is good for me.  90% of Westerly, where the show is to be held, was out of power yesterday, but an announcement on their Facebook page declares that they are up and running this morning.

And speaking of wind, here is one of my favorite funny movies.  I just bought a new copy and because–thank God–Nebraska isn’t playing football tomorrow I might settle on the couch with some hand-stitching and enjoy a few giggles.

mighty wind




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my cup runneth over, yes it does

No, I haven’t gone biblical on you.  My cup indeed–literally and figuratively–is full.

Because, you ask?

I was finally able to get my prosthesis yesterday morning.  A kind saleswoman from “Ruth’s”, corset shop extraordinaire, fitted me while Banjo Man ate breakfast at the cafe next door.

Who knew a $300 blob of silicone and two lovely bras would change my life so nicely?

I am filled with joy.  Seriously.  Pun intended.

I haven’t blogged about this particular issue, unwilling to make my male readers squirm (and I’d advise you guys to stop reading and go on to something else on the internet), but let’s just say it isn’t easy wearing a poly-fil insert that rides up a couple of inches higher than the real, gravity-driven thing.  I even made inserts of glass micro beads to add some weight.  That helped a little, but not much.  At one point I used small, smooth flat rocks from the lake (yes, I have a little collection here to remind me of summer).  The comfy “Knitted Knockers” served their purpose after surgery but were not cutting it in the reality of wanting to look and feel normal again.  I had begun to hate the very sight of them.

And then there’s the balance problem.  Not that I was Dolly Parton or anyone endowed with extra curves, but a little weight makes a difference.  After surgery I lurched to the left and walked the house like Frankenstein.  I was constantly reminding myself to stand up straight and not stagger sideways.

I opted out of reconstruction (more surgery??  Are you kidding me???!!!), but I didn’t want to feel self-conscious either.  I don’t really think that anyone is eyeing a 67-year old woman’s chest for a cheap thrill, but I longed to feel balanced again and to look nice in my clothes.  I often think it would have been easier in the long run to have both breasts removed and then I wouldn’t have to wear any undergarments or silicone at all.

I detest the shirts (prints? gathers? ick!) I wear.  I want my t-shirts back.  And my pretty knit sundresses.  I recently ordered a couple of sweaters with interestingly draped necks that will hide my flatness when I don’t feel like gearing up.  Pretty scarves will come in handy, too.  But I wanted options.  What woman doesn’t?

I’d had to wait for many weeks after radiation in order to get a prosthesis.  You have to be completely healed from radiation and you can’t get one before radiation because of the swelling from the surgery.  I’d been waiting all week to drive up to the city but the weather had been too awful to make the trip.  And I was getting nervous about the whole thing.  What if I cried?  What if they didn’t have my size and had to order it?  What if I got tired before I found what I needed?

So yesterday I wore my cowboy boots for courage.  But the fitting went better than I expected.  I tried on three “forms” before finding the one that matched, and four or five bras before finding a couple of comfy ones.  I wore my new “body” out of the store and pranced over to the cafe where Banjo Man was seated at the counter finishing his breakfast and reading the paper.  I perched on the stool next to him and opened my cardigan sweater to reveal a fitted cream turtleneck worn especially for fake-breast-testing.

“Stare at them,” I demanded, pointing my breasts in his direction.  “Go ahead, stare!”

He put down the paper and did as he was told.

“I can’t tell the difference,” he pronounced, good husband that he is.  But I could tell he was impressed.  He looked back up to my face.  “Are you happy?”

“Very happy,” I assured him.  “The extra weight is heaven and feels so good.  It was like wearing a pair of shoes where one fit and one was floppy and miserable and now I have two shoes that fit and I am so comfortable!”

And then I started crying.  Just a little.  Into a Kleenex.

So…one more step into the Land of Normal.  Tomorrow I’ll tell you about another one.  Fear not, it has nothing to do with missing body parts.





Posted in family, rhode island, shopping, the cancer fight | 5 Comments

heading east and home again

IMG_3582 (Edited)

Flying into the sunrise.

I left Austin yesterday morning (Tuesday) at 6 AM.  The plane was dark and quiet, which gave passengers a few more minutes to snooze after early morning trips to the airport.

I think the above photo would make an interesting quilt.  I’m tempted to try.

And then a while later…


I wonder what all that water is down there.

And lastly…

IMG_3585 (Edited)

Here comes the sun.

Will and I flew to Austin last Monday night.  A few delays in Baltimore meant we arrived at the condo after 1 AM.  Thank God I slept on the plane or I would have been delirious.  Will jogged down to the cafe and returned with chicken quesadillas for our bedtime snack and then we fell into our prospective beds.

It was 97 in Austin the next day.  And the day after that.  And the day after that, etc.  I stayed in the condo and read and sewed and watched tv while Will was at work.  It was lovely.

Ben, Amber and the Funny Grandson arrived for dinner Wednesday night.  We went out, of course, which was great fun.  I’m always grateful to be together in Austin again.  My little family is a cheerful bunch.

Friday was the FG’s Early Birthday Party.  He would spend the weekend and not return home until Sunday night, so this Party Grandma was ecstatic to have him around for such a long visit.  We walked to the cafe every morning for pancakes and bacon and plenty of conversation.  We watched football, including the pregame shows.  We read in bed at night, even though I always fell asleep before he did.  We played lots and lots of UNO and even treated ourselves to root beer floats before the Nebraska game.

He didn’t want to go home.


Lego cars make him happy.

I even threw a couple of roasts into the crock pot for our family dinner party Friday night.  Unfortunately 8 hours in the crock pot was not long enough to cook them to the “fall apart” stage.  I think the “high” on that appliance has broken and we’re left with “low”.  Or else I was cooking a very old steer (it would take six more hours the next day to tenderize that meat).

Despite all that trouble, I was thrilled to have had enough energy to put something in a crock pot.  A good feeling!

Other than that I was pretty much useless.  Will wanted advice about redoing the living room, so on Monday–when it was a shocking 78 degrees (a cold wave!)–we drove to a couple of furniture stores to get ideas.  We even remembered to take along a tape measure, which definitely came in handy for eliminating possibilities.


You have to love the metal bats.

So I am back in Rhode Island with a very happy Banjo Man.  Tonight we will have a “Survivor” marathon to catch up on the new season.  The weather is cool, windy and rainy–the opposite of Texas–and it feels pretty darn good to wear a sweater.

I’d had my doubts about going to Texas.  I would have cancelled it if not for my excited grandson.  He loves the tradition of Early Birthday and we always have fun.  But both Will and I were nervous about how much energy it would take for me to make the trip this year.  I worried the lymphedema would rear its ugly head due to flying (it didn’t).  And I thought I’d be too tired to have fun (I wasn’t).  In fact, I think the new medication (Arimidex, to keep the cancer from returning) gives me a little extra zip.  I’ve had more energy since I started taking it and, believe me, I’m grateful for any little bit of energy that comes my way.

Maybe in a couple of days I’ll dust off one of the crock pots and make a soup.  Now that would be progress!






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