carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

Basketball, Basketball, Basketball

How I love watching ACC basketball….  We spend several week nights watching.  A big part of Saturday and then again on Sunday.

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And sometimes the games overlap so that I have to watch one on TV and one on my laptop.

Actually one of the best things about moving back to the US.  Now I am wondering if I will ever be able to see an ACC basketball game in virtual reality?

 

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Happy Lunar New Year

I try to honor Ben’s Asian heritage as much as I honor my Italian background.  Usually we celebrate with a large Asian meal, but for some unknown reason, this year, I am stuck in the comfort food roasts and stews mode.  I’ll be over that soon and we will have a belated big Asian feast.  Until then, I know it is the year of the dog, however, here is our Chinese dragon head to send you best wishes.

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I can’t resist telling the story about how I got the dragon head…. when we were in Hong Kong in February/March of 1996 with Jim and BK I bought it at the local version of K-Mart.  (Great store, can’t remember the name but I could probably walk there if I was in Hong Kong )  Now keep in mind this was 1996 before airlines got so nasty about bringing things on planes.  Our suitcases were full with china and other treasures.  The dragon head was in a box, roughly 2 feet square.  Weighed less than 1 pound.  I was carrying it on.  It is only paper mache and could be easily crushed.  I really did not want to check it.  Well!  You would have thought I was bringing on live snakes!  Such a fuss!  The box was a little too big for the overhead bins.  What to do?  What to do…. finally an accommodating member of the crew found a place for it in the first class closet and it made it safely back to the US.  It did not travel with us to Italy but has been in storage.  Now I am happy that it is out and hanging, guarding our back door and spinning around freely when the heat or air comes on.

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Happy Valentine’s

I just finished reading As Always, Julia. The Letters of Julia Child and Avis De Voto edited by Joan Reardon.  A collection of letters between the two women.  Avis acted as a recipe tester, researcher, cheerleader and go between Julia and her publisher for Julia’s first French Cookbook.  Besides writing about food it is interesting to note how much of their correspondence was also about politics.  And how, even taken out of context, their comments could apply today.

There are a number ‘letter’ books, some fiction some nonfiction that I have read.  All of these letters got me thinking about what will be left in the future for folks to read.  Who writes letters now?  I do.  I send about 10 a month.  Two of my friends reply with letters.  But, oh my, they are definitely not as deep and serious as the exchanges that Julia and Avis had.

Anyway, back to Valentines.  Julia and Paul Child spent a large amount of time living outside the US.  Julia wrote that they could not get organized to send Christmas cards so they started sending Valentine’s cards back to friends and family in the US.  It helped that Paul was an artist and an accomplished photographer.  Still to get this card done took a good bit of planning and organization in 1954 Germany.  Besides finding a bathtub big enough to accommodate 6′ Julia, they had to have two rubber stamps made, get enough photos printed and get them in the mail before the 14th.   I had to wonder what folks of such talents could have accomplished if they were alive with today’s resources and technology.

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Our simple little photograph only required getting Jim to wait patiently while our friend BK took a picture.

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Note my cool authentic Scottish tam that John and Richard gave me.

Happy Valentine’s from Ben and Martha

 

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Deep thoughts while unpacking

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I wondered if I had run out of boxes and staged a raid on the Post Office.  Then I remembered that Ben had a stack of these in his office in our Virginia house  (he used to mail out info about computer systems that he sold).  Fearing that he would pack these up and move them I probably ‘appropriated’ them for use  packing my Chinese fish platters.

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I unpacked boxes from places where I worked, not just in Virginia but also in North Carolina before we moved to Virginia.  Boxes, Ben had used moving back to the US from Germany even before I met him.  Boxes, used by our Virginia neighbor who moved back from SE Asia just as we were packing up to move to Italy.  Boxes used by John and Richard  (we rented from them in Italy) who had moved all over the world several times.  Boxes from Florida when I packed up my parents’ house.  Boxes Boxes Boxes.  Each one I opened, I thought about the connection it had to us.  About how far that box had traveled.  About the people that I had known.  About the times I had spent with them.  And that is just in the outside of the box.

Inside oh the treasures!  (Oh, the “why did I pack and keep this?”)  I was most excited to find

 

 

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My collection of Revere Ware pots and pans.  I was really afraid that these had been sold or given away.  I am so happy to see these again.  It is a nice set and a duplicate set which was my Mother’s.  For now I am keeping both of them but some of them might have to go.

 

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This hammered aluminum Dutch oven cooked many meals for my family as I was growing up.  Many a Sunday roast.  I can remember my mother experiencing some amount of distress if the church service ran long….”oh, the roast will be dry!”   Very happy to see this again.

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And look at this, it is Siena’s hair, snagged on a piece of furniture and packed away for almost ten years.

UPDATE 2/5/18

I wrote this back in the summer.  Super Bowl weekend I finally got around to cooking a roast in the pot that my mother used.

 

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It turned out well.  I think my parents would have enjoyed it.

There are still boxes tucked away that need to be dealt with.  I am torn between dealing with boxes or working on the projects that still need to be done.  Maybe I’ll try to do a bit of both.

 

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Catching up

I really don’t know what, if anything, I have done on our condo since I last wrote about it.  We had a very busy November and December so I took a little break from trying to get anything done.  January is January.  What can I say.  There are basketball games to watch and books to read!

My biggest push to get things done was to hang pictures.  We have a lot of things to hang.  Years and years ago (way before smart phones where everyone carries every photo they have ever taken around with them) I started taking pictures of our trips or when we got together with friends and having the good ones enlarged and printed.  I decided the best way to display them was to use plain, clear, plastic box frames.  Inexpensive, don’t add or detract from the photo and they go on sale.   And way before it was a ‘thing’ I took pictures of food.  Especially at outdoor markets.

Our condo is oriented with east and west windows through which, at various times of day, strong sunlight comes in.  Before hanging too much I wanted to observe the light patterns to avoid fading of things that will be hanging.   In October, I started on this wall outside the upstairs bedroom and bath.

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All the shelves were full of frames.  One by one the frames committed suicide by jumping off the shelf.  I use these little shelves because the holes in the back of each frame are different and I would never be able to get all the pictures straight.  I experimented with all sorts of putties and potions to help keep them attached to the wall and finally found a 3 M tape product that works.  Two weekends ago while watching basketball, I washed all the frames.  I had the tape.  Pictures in frames, all staged in rows on the bed.  Tuesday morning, the time allotted to start hanging I was all ready to start putting pictures up.  Oh no, our internet died.  My whole Tuesday morning had to be spent trying  to get that working again.  Now Ben will tell you, I can be mean as a snake when things are not going the way I planned.  Finally, I was able to get back to and finish this project.

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I am pleased with how it turned out.  It is a lot of pictures.  The uniformity of them and grouping by themes makes the display work.  Well, that is what I think.  After all of these went up, I still have 30 more.  A future post will show where they ended up.

I have also managed to finish the chandeliers for the two pendant lights over the dining table.

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These were just naked bulbs.  My parents had saved all the wooden spoons.  I found these blue and white chop sticks at one of the Asian markets.  Used a thin  piece of light colored wood veneer that I glued around a wooden embroidery hoop.  Getting the spoons and chop sticks to stay on a curved surface was the trick.  Finally, several coats of Mod-Podge did the trick.

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I am real tickled with how both of these projects turned out.  The man who rented from us most of the time we were in Italy was by the other day.  He was interested in seeing all the changes we had made.  I know the man’s taste.  He is a minimalist.   His eyes could not have been bigger.  Almost overwhelmed by all that we have in here.  But, I am pretty sure he approved of the changes we have made.

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My brother died and

no one told me.  Yeah, I was irritated and sad.

His birthday is today.  In January I decided that I would try to find an address for him and send a card and a check.  He had a caregiver/companion.  I thought he had a good arrangement with her.  In 2015 she contacted me about buying an airline ticket for Paul to join us in Italy.  I explained nicely to her that moving to another country was not the same as moving to another state.  An international move takes planning and paperwork.  Lots of paperwork.  Showing that you have income and health insurance other than Medicare.  She got into a snit and stopped communicating with me.  When we arrived in 2016 I reached out to them again.  And heard nothing.  I reached out to his former sister-in-law, the woman who arranged for this care giver.  Didn’t get far with that.  We were in a temporary place, arranging the work on our condo, getting Ben organized with doctors, health care workers and then, starting in May, moving and unpacking (unpacking continues).  And oh by the way, I already have one semi-helpless large old man to look after, do I really want another one?  But if someone had contacted me I would have made some kind of arrangements.

I found out he had died by googling his name and seeing a funeral listing in Mobile, Alabama.  That was two weeks ago.  Bit by bit I have pulled little shreds of info out of folks in Mobile.  Everyone seems reluctant to share anything, citing “PRIVACY”.  Jiminey Cricket!!!!! The man is dead!  I am his closest living relative.  I am the only one who could possibly get upset about having his PRIVACY violated!.  Each little shred of info has taken 2 or 3 emails and multiple phone calls.  But once I finally get someone to talk a bit, they can’t tell me fast enough how their business/practice  provided services at no cost……  My feeling about this, you google my last name and you will see all 30 of us.  And we all know how to get in touch with each other.  It is not like my last name is Smith or Jones.   You couldn’t bother to find me….I can’t bother to assume his debt.

This is what I know so far.  The caregiver dropped him off at a homeless shelter in Mobile.  With the help of a volunteer guardian and a court appointed conservator he was placed in a nursing home.  He died while under their care.  I have no idea if all this took place over days, months or years.  I have no idea what he died from.  I do know where he was buried in an unmarked grave.  Ben and I have used all of our disposable income for this month to place two obituary notices in the Vicksburg, MS and Louisville, KY papers.  If the state of Alabama ever sends me the death certificate I MIGHT be able to get some remaining funds to have a stone made to at least mark his grave.

So here is his obituary if you would like to read it.  (This is the long version. I cut it some to get it under $400 for the Louisville paper)

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Born on February 6, 1945 in Louisville, KY to Frank Paul and Hattie Gudgel Taccarino, Hattie liked to joke that while Frank was fighting in Europe during WWII at the Battle of the Bulge she was fighting her own battle of the bulge.  Paul graduated from Mayme S Waggener High School in Louisville in 1963.  He earned a BS from Kentucky Southern College (now part of University of Louisville) and an MS in Library Science from the University of Kentucky.  Fluent in French he studied and served at Defense Language Institute, Monterey, California as part of his military service.  After that, he was employed in Library and Information Services at the Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, MS. He retired from there and enjoyed caring for his cats and watching ALL SPORTS, but baseball was his favorite. He was predeceased by his parents, his first wife Joy O’ Connor Taccarino, his second wife Debra Allen Taccarino and many Aunts and Uncles.  He is survived by his sister Martha (Missy) Taccarino of Raleigh, NC, an Aunt, Mrs. Florence Dungan of Ocean City, NJ, an Uncle, Mr. John Gudgel of Indianapolis, IN and many cousins.  Paul died on November 18, 2017 and was buried at Pinecrest Cemetery in Mobile, AL.  The family can be reached at 1652 Sutton Dr, Raleigh, NC 27605 and requests that you remember him by donating to your local library or animal care society and watch a baseball game!

 

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No, no, no, SNOW

I haven’t disappeared.  We just got really busy in December.  And we just don’t do anything that is exciting anymore.  However, I could not let this snow pass without a comment.

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Yes, this is the “don’t worry about it.  It will only be 1 to 2 inches.” snow storm.  Here in town, we probably got about 4″ so far with maybe an inch or two more to come.  There are places with 10″ or more.  I don’t think you could pay me enough to be a weather person here in North Carolina.

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There was a storm two weeks ago.   That was barely a dusting.  Then it was really COLD!  Unusally cold for here.  Four degrees one night.  That is really cold for her.  We had a 10 day period when we did not get above freezing.  So guess who has been living inside?

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Yes, the olive tree.  Festive lights.  A Poinsetta friend.  Ohhhh, it is getting a little too comfortable in here.  Thank goodness I bought a rolling saucer for it.

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Fall

We didn’t really have Fall in our part of Italy.  Lots of non-decidous trees; pines, cypress, cedars, live oaks.  This is our first full fall back.  Here in NC because it has been so warm still (it was 80 degrees on Monday, 11/6) the trees are just starting to turn now that we are having a cold spell.

The hoo-ha over Monday being the last warm day for a while prompted me to go out and plant daffodil bulbs in the front.  Earlier in the summer I thinned the cannas.  Many years ago my neighbor was an older man of European descent who loved to garden and had the beds around the front of his unit and mine looking very nice.  He is long gone and no one has really touched them since.  The cannas had taken over, even  covering a couple of azaleas.

There is a lawn care service that comes every Monday at the CRACK of dawn.  In early September they put out grass seed, on the day that hurricane Maria was supposed to swing by.  Well, we got about a teaspoon of rain from the storm and no other rain for over 30 days.  I realized that the seed was not going to come up unless someone watered.  And my neighbors were getting married at the end of September so I thought it would be nice if that grass grew.  So I watered, two times a day, every day for over two weeks.  The Monday, after spreading grass seed, the lawn care staff was back, cutting, raking and blowing.  The next Monday the same thing happened again.  That was when I gave up watering the entire front.  What is the point if someone is going rake/disturb all the seed.  I did finally find a lawn patch kit that I spread on the bare spot by our door and barricaded it off so no will tramp through it.  I have been watering again.  Reseeded another time and finally have a reasonable amount of grass coming up.  Even though I whine about the lawn care folks I do appreciate that they come and cut and rake and blow leaves so that I don’t have to do that.

Back to my daffodil bed, while thinning the cannas I discovered some day lilies.  I also went on Craig’s List and traded some of my cannas for more day lillies.  So every daffodil got a day lily friend planted with it.  After the daffs do their thing, the day lillies should be coming up and will fill in and cover the dying daff foliage.  Behind them is some bee balm that did not do well in the planter in the back and a few other prennials.  That whole front bed should be pretty low maintenance next summer but blooming and colorful.

This is at least the 4th daffodil bed that I have started.  I always think of my grand mother when I plant daffodils.  She had them in her yard in Kentucky.  I think I helped her plant some.  She died in early November many years ago.  So it is nice to remember her as I plant bulbs and start a new flower bed.  Think she would be happy that I did.

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When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold

Bare ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang

                                                                                         Shakespeare

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Feathering the Nest

When I tell the story about moving back to the US from Italy, one of the things that people always realize and comment on is “Oh, I guess you had to buy a car.”  A few folks will say “Oh, and furniture too.”  I guess the others think that we moved furniture…. Well we didn’t.  And we didn’t store that much.  Fortunately, our condo is so small we don’t need much.

From our experience where we rented I knew we needed a piece of furniture that could act as counterspace in the kitchen and table space for meals.   We looked online at free-standing islands, tables with storage, just about every configuration/name we could think of.  To me most of them looked exactly like what would be seen in any American kitchen.  I just couldn’t cope.  The only one I came close to liking was at Williams and Sonoma and was custom-built.  And they custom built the price too.  Then I hoped to get some one to build one for us but gave up on that idea too.  So good old DIY was the answer.

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Capital City Lumber to the rescue.  And these really cool moulded plastic forms.

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These forms allow someone to build shelves with straight cuts, no angles, no need to ‘toenail’ which can be hard if you don’t have a lot of DYI skills.  When we moved in, our friend Pat put this together for me.  As a temporary measure we used a door on top.

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When Wayne (the man who made my Murphy Bed) came over to talk about the bed I realized he was probably just the man to make the table top.  So we talked about it.  And he agreed.  When he delivered the bed, he took away the table base.  For a few weeks our door/table balanced on top of big plastic tubs and we got by.  I was very excited when Wayne returned with the table top.

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Wayne followed the measurements that I wanted.  The table is 5′ by 4′.  The counter top part, what we use most of the time is almost 3′.  He had just the hinges to mount the other part which is now a leaf that folds down.  And is down most of the time.

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Here’s what it looks like open.  We can comfortably seat 6.  8 in a pinch.  So the first weekend in November we had Pat (the clever man who put it together in the first place) and Debby over for ‘Duckappaloosa!’.   And the table worked very well.

I am ready now to declare the ground floor more or less done.  We have all the pieces of furniture that we need down here.  Pictures are hung.  The tops of two pieces of furniture are covered with things.  A few hours of focus and channeling Marie Kondo will fix that.  There are some projects that still need to be done.  They have always been on the ‘winter projects’ schedule.  I’ll get to them.  In a few weeks I’ll try to get to a before and after post.  We are very lucky that it has turned out so well.

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Sleeping with sharks under the stars

The majority of the furniture that we stored for 10 years was storage pieces.  Some that I had bought and four bookcases that had been my parents.  My father had gotten the school book cases from the Louisville Public Schools.  Before I left their home, he and I refinished one and I used it as a china cabinet for many years.  The others had been in their house.  When I closed their house, I moved those three up to Virginia.  And then into storage in North Carolina.  And then out of storage.  Two went upstairs (a real treat to move up the steps) and have clothes and pictures.  Two remained down.  The former china cabinet has become my pantry.  And this one has become a Murphy Bed.

 

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Murphy bed (in North America), also called a wall bedpull down bed, or fold-down bed, is a bed that is hinged at one end to store vertically against the wall, or inside of a closet or cabinet.

History

The bed is named for William Lawrence Murphy (1876–May 23, 1957), who applied for his first patents around 1900. According to legend, he was wooing an opera singer, but living in a one-room apartment in San Francisco, and the moral code of the time frowned upon a woman entering a man’s bedroom. Murphy’s invention converted his bedroom into a parlor, enabling him to entertain.[1] Earlier foldup beds had existed, and were even available through the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog,[2] but Murphy introduced pivot and counterbalanced designs for which he received a series of patents, including one for a “Disappearing Bed” on June 18, 1912[3] and another for a “Design for a Bed” on June 27, 1916.[4]

Murphy beds are used for space-saving purposes, much like trundle beds, and are popular where floor space is limited, such as small homes, apartments, hotels, mobile homes and college dormitories. In recent years, Murphy bed units have included options such as lighting, storage cabinets, and office components. They have seen a resurgence in popularity in the early 2010s due to the weak economy, with children moving back in with their parents and families choosing to renovate homes rather than purchasing larger ones.[5]

In 1989, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the term “Murphy Bed” had entered common usage so thoroughly that it was no longer eligible for trademark protection.[6]

Designs and models

Most Murphy beds do not have box springs. Instead, the mattress usually lies on a wood platform or wire mesh and is held in place so as not to sag when in a closed position. The mattress is attached to the bed frame, often with elastic straps to hold the mattress in position when the unit is folded upright. Piston-lifts or torsion springs make modern Murphy beds easy to lower and raise.

Since the first model several other variations and designs have been created, including: sideways-mounted Murphy beds, Murphy bunk beds, and solutions that include other functions. Murphy beds with tables or desks that fold down when the bed is folded up are popular, and there are also models with sofas[7] and shelving solutions.[8]

Hazards

When attempting to pull a Murphy bed down from the wall, if not installed properly, it is possible that it could collapse on the operator. In 1982, a drunk man suffocated inside a closed Murphy bed,[9] and two women were entrapped and suffocated by an improperly installed wall bed in 2005.[10]

In popular culture

Murphy beds were a common setup for comic scenes in early cinema, including in silent films. Among the films which use Murphy beds as comic props are Charlie Chaplin‘s 1916 One AM, several Three Stooges shorts, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the James Bond film You Only Live TwiceMel Brooks‘s Silent MovieThe Pink Panther Strikes AgainThe Great Muppet Caper, and in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

It’s also used as a gag in the Tintin album Red Rackham’s Treasure, when Professor Calculus unknowingly activates a Murphy bed while Thompson and Thomson are sitting on it.

In the popular PC video games The Sims 2 and The Sims 3, Murphy beds have the potential to kill playable characters, an allusion to the hazards of pulling them down.

 

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Pantry on the right, Wayne who made the Murphy Bed in the center and the Murphy Bed on the left on the day Wayne delivered it.  Wayne owns The Master’s Craftsman.  We decided on a Murphy Bed to make the ground floor look a little less like a bedroom and to give us more floor space when it is folded up.  I am really tickled that I found Wayne on Craig’s List and that he was willing and able to do the work.  And that he listened, understood what I wanted and did it.  Many times when you are a small woman your ideas or desires can be ignored or poo pooed by workmen.  Wayne did not do that at all!

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It took a while, but I got it painted.  Found a cabinet that fits between the two and now holds cook books.

Wayne was excited about   using an existing cabinet to make a bed.  Normally he makes these beds from scratch with woods that the client picks.  He is a true craftsman.  Notice how he carefully kept the original handle and lock and key.  Inside, he reused the wood from the shelves to make the head board and the frame to attach the bed to.  I like the original wood and choose not to paint it.

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After a few nights of sleeping in it I realized I could have stars!  So when Wayne was back a few days later to deliver our table (more about the table in another post) he drilled the holes that I wanted in the top.

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Can you see the Big Dipper?  They twinkle too.  Sooo cool!

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Today I put on my shark sheets.  (Southern Tide brand at Belks.  Very soft and a great shade of blue).  So I’m sleeping under the stars with the sharks and tickled pink!

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