deja vu all over again

I am in Austin, being Grandma.

It’s a fun job because right now my grandson’s world revolves around Star Wars.  I’m familiar with that world.  It began in 1977, when the first movie was released and Banjo Man worked for a salad dressing company.  We left the mountain one weekend in early 1978 and drove to Seattle to pick up jars or spices or something like that.

We stayed with a cousin, who asked if we had seen Star Wars.  Of course we hadn’t, so off we went to a midnight show (the only time with available seats) and that is when Son #1’s life took on a whole new meaning.

In other words, the Force was with him.

It was with all of us, but especially with my mother.  Over the years she bought a zillion dollars of Star Wars toys.  Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, the flu, ear surgery, etc.  No event, good or bad, passed without a package from Grandma.

I overheard my son tell an impressed friend, “My grandma and I have a Star Wars collection.”

Indeed they did.

And it’s genetic.



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the first 100 miles

Banjo Man and I left the lake last Sunday afternoon.

For the first time in six years I did not cry all the way to Thompson Falls.  Why, you ask?

Because I was eating ice cream.   Not just any ice cream, but soft-serve vanilla ice cream from The Pantry.  I’ll let you in on a little tip:  if you buy a large cup of The Pantry’s soft serve vanilla ice cream and take it home and freeze it, you will have something that tastes like homemade, right-from-the-crank-machine, ice cream.

It’s pretty wonderful.

I buy mini chocolate chips from The Pantry and add them to the ice cream to make….TA DAH!!!–chocolate chip ice cream.

And because I was eating this from the time we left the lake until somewhere deep into Montana, I was too busy to cry.

Banjo Man was so happy.  He now knows The Secret to Leaving Idaho Without Tears.

After I finished my ice cream–and believe me, I made it last a long time–I took some pictures.

Because Montana is photogenic.

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until next year

It’s always hard to say goodbye.  But it’s October.  Time to go to Texas and party with the family there.  Time to eat birthday cake and pumpkin ice cream.

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Goodbye, beach. You were good exercise.
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Goodbye, rocks. The treasure hunt for arrowheads will continue next year.
2014-10-11 019Goodbye, friends.  Take good care of yourselves.  I’ll miss you terribly.

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happy birthday, story man

May you find more arrowheads.

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May you catch bigger fish.


And captain more boats.

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May you skip more rocks.

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And dig bigger holes in the sandbox.


May all your dreams come true.


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oh, dear…

Two different offices, on different sides of the country…but the same critters looking for food.

View from Idaho office:

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View from Rhode Island office:
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2014-10-11 046Rhode Island:

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They want to know why I am taking pictures of them

Check out the Rhode Island boulders.  A glacier dumped them here a gazillion years ago, so Banjo Man uses them for stone walls.

Lots of people have used them for stone walls, starting with the Pilgrims.  Some of our stone walls began in the 1600’s.

They disappear into woods filled with thick, green briars.

So do the deer.

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a kindle deal

I loved this book last January. Just saw that it’s offered for $1.99 on Kindle (or ebook) at Amazon.

Just sayin’….

someone else's love story

click here for $1.99 price on amazon.

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Ah, yes…..

We are home.  We unpacked the car and then Banjo Man merrily hustled off to town to buy groceries while I sat on the couch in a stupor.

I’m still sitting on the couch in a stupor.  I have my nightgown on.  I still have a cup of diet soda from the last gas station we stopped at in Connecticut.  Because I like straws and lids.

We are watching football on tv.  Nebraska plays in an hour and we are so excited to watch it on our own tv set.

I’m breaking out the tequila to celebrate our safe arrival back in Rhode Island.  I don’t have to drive anywhere tomorrow.  I don’t have to program the GPS or double check the road atlas or find the cords to all of my high tech devices or play that Willie Nelson cd for Banjo Man another fifty times.

I’m not sure where my cell phone is.  Maybe I lost it in Ohio, who knows?

 And who cares?

I am in my nightgown.

I am on the couch.

Banjo Man is next to me.

And we are not in the car, going 70 miles an hour down the highway.

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meaner than a junk yard dog

I’m talking about Chicago.  (Remember the song????)

We left Rochester Thursday morning.  The sun was shining.  The sky was blue.  Everyone in Minnesota is so darn nice.  We’d had a wonderful evening with Mandolin Ann and Boom Boom Neil, the bass and recorder man in both Idaho bands.

It was time to hit the road, make some tracks, put in the miles, get to Indiana, blah, blah, blah.

We’d never driven this way before.  New roads, new scenery, it was all good.

That worked out just fine until halfway through Wisconsin, when it was my turn to drive.  I set the GPS to “South Bend”.  I checked our road atlas and knew we were heading south to pick up I-80 and go east.  I had my I-pod, ice water and half a bag of M&M’s.

Ready to roll.

About 45 minutes into my driving time, Banjo Man squished his king-size fleece blanket into a pillow, closed his eyes and began to snore.

About 2 minutes later I had no idea where I was going.  The GPS said to take the I-90 road.  The other sign said, “Bloomington”.  I had no idea where Bloomington was.  I didn’t remember ever driving through there.

Click here to see the route:

I didn’t wake up Banjo Man to ask his advice.  There was no time.  I was wedged between cars and semis.  I picked the I-90 option because I knew that I-80 and I-90 sometimes combined in the Midwest.  Was this road going to lead to I-80?  It was 45 mph, all construction, two lanes, no exits, no gas stations, no nothing.

It went on for an hour and a half, until I–still following that pink line on the GPS–burst into four lanes of traffic.  By this time I was pretty sure I’d screwed up.

And then, trying to decipher the signs over SIX LANES OF TRAFFIC, I took the wrong lane and ended up at….O’HARE AIRPORT.

Banjo Man woke up to planes dive-bombing the car and me wailing, “I don’t know where I am!!!!”

You can imagine his dismay.

I followed the “recalculating” lines on the GPS while Banjo Man frantically studied the road atlas.  I eventually got back on the horrible road I was on.

Did I mention that it was 5:45PM?  Rush hour in downtown Chicago?

Banjo Man pointed out some tall buildings in the distance.

Me:  “What are those?”

Him:  “That’s the Chicago skyline.  We’re going right through there.”

It took 2 hours.  It felt like 6.

There was no way to pull over.  No place to hide.  No way for Banjo Man to do anything but study the map and ask me how the hell I ended up in Chicago?  I explained about the GPS, the construction, the lack of signs that said “To I-80″, the lack of places to stop….

Once he realized I could handle driving in the insane bumper to bumper traffic, he started to relax.  And chuckle. And point out buildings.

“That’s the Sears Tower.”

Me:  I hate it.  I don’t care what it is.

Him:  Wow, we’re going right past Wrigley Field.

Me:  I hate it.  I don’t care what it is.

The minute we made it into Indiana, I pulled off to the side of a toll booth and Banjo Man got behind the wheel.  Just a few miles later he took an exit and drove right to a Cracker Barrel restaurant (one of my personal favorites).  I think he was afraid I was going to burst into tears and hoped that the sight of Halloween decorations and mashed potatoes would cheer me up.

It helped.  A little.  I ate some potatoes and turkey and I took some migraine medication and I bought a really pretty black and yellow scarf.

We didn’t make it to South Bend.  We got a hotel room just a few miles away from the restaurant and collapsed into bed.

Here’s the route I should have taken:; marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”></iframe>

There’s a big difference.



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old dogs, new tricks, on the road

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Sunrise in Indiana.

After 44 years of marriage, we set a new record this morning:

We were out of our hotel room and on the road at 5:50 AM.  I’ve always wanted to do that, but Banjo Man has never seen the appeal.  He likes his morning routine:  shave, shower, breakfast, news, computer, business, packing up the room, packing the car…

When this morning he woke me at 5:15 and said, “Come on, it’s time to get out of here!” I thought the hotel was on fire.

I threw on my clothes (I set them out the night before) and grabbed my two  small, matching bags (I pack up my computer stuff the night before), brushed my teeth and grabbed a cup of coffee on the way out to the parking lot.

It was dark.  Very dark.  The problem was that Banjo Man hadn ‘t slept last night.  He’d tossed and turned and finally gave up.  And I had told him to set his clock ahead an hour last night (I thought the time had changed west of Chicago, but it changed east of our hotel room.  (It was one of many, many mistakes I made yesterday).

So Banjo Man thought he was getting on the road at 6:30, but it was actually 5:30.

Poor Banjo Man.

We traveled from Illinois  through Indiana before stopping for breakfast at a local restaurant, a few miles south of I-80.

2014-10-17 003Banjo Man had a 5-egg omelet.  All of their omelets were made from 5 eggs.  I had the special: 2 eggs, 2 pancakes, 2 pieces of bacon and 2 sausage links.

Banjo Man said it was the best omelet he’d ever eaten in his life.  It was so high and fluffy that Banjo Man had to ask how it was made.  The answer?  Eggs beaten with water and clarified butter.

Can’t wait to try it myself (when I can remember what clarified butter is).

On to Ohio.  Oh-me-oh-my-oh.  (Yes, that’s a Gillian Welch reference).

A brief stop at Arby’s many hours later (Arby’s had 3 televisions broadcasting news and wifi!!!) in Pennsylvania, we stayed on the road until we are now in another lovely, comforting, clean Hampton Inn.

Rhode Island tomorrow….even if we sleep late.



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this is wisconsin

After about 4 hours on the road today, we stopped here:

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