carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

Another food post

I don’t write as many of those as I used to, do I?  ‘Toto, I guess we aren’t in Italy anymore.’  We don’t get out that much and American food is just not that special.  A few weeks ago we did meet Jim and BK in Creedmoor for Mexican food.  ( click here if you want to see their site)  El Corral.  It was, as always, excellent.  I’m sorry that I didn’t take a picture.  When we used to come back for visits we always tried our best to stop by here since the food is good.  And it still is.

Anyway, we are still trying to find our pizza of choice.

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The box on the right is a brand that we used to get at the Esselunga in Italy.  The contents are on the left of the board.  I have to dress it up for Ben by adding more ham and cheese.  The box to the left and the pizza to the right of the board is Harris-Teeter’s brand.  It would have been excellent except for the American tendency to gild the lily and take dishes one step too far!  The zesty sauce!  What is wrong with good, simple ingredients?  Good cheese.  Good tomato sauce. Simple crust.  No need for some overly garlicy/basil sauce.  None of the take out that we have tried is acceptable.  The hunt continues.

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My tomatoes are just about finished but the green beans have started to come in.  Last night there were enough to make an Asian style dish, Gingered Pork with Green Beans and Carrots.   It was very tasty.

We are still shopping at the Harris-Teeter.  Ground has not even been broken on the Wegmans yet.  Every now  and then I venture into Trader Joes.  Now that we have a car that is not an oven on wheels we might try to get up to the Lidl in Wake Forest more often.  Our friends Jim and BK like Sprouts.  We have still not been to it, although Ben is keen to go.  (Ben is keen to go many places but he is not the one who has to load and unload his wheel chair and all his paraphernalia.  Our trips have to be tied into other errands or appointments)

I did catch on that I can order deli items online and then just pick them up at the Harris-Teeter without standing in line.  And I make our grocery list online too.  If I had a whoop de doo phone I could just have it on my phone.  Still old school, I print it out.

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I also find that while shopping I need to remind myself that the Harris-Teeter is only a few blocks and that I don’t need to over buy.  I have found that we are throwing away more food (spoiled) than I would like.  No exciting food here.  And I know we are very lucky to be in this position to be able to whine about boring food….

 

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What are you reading?

Growing up I always loved summer because I could read what ever I wanted and as long as I wanted.  And many is the night that I stayed awake half the night finishing a book.  The joy of doing that, but oh how awful you feel the next morning….

I know I recently posted about the two series that I am reading this summer.  To my dismay, I discovered that my library doesn’t have all of the series.  (Yes, thank you, I know how to order up books from other branches and have them sent to my branch.  I am talking about the library as a whole)  So either I need to fill in by reading some of them online or buying some (HORRORS!)  Anyway, while waiting to figure that out I decided to expand from the two series that I was reading.  So I have added The Irish Country series by Patrick Taylor and Effie Leland Wilder’s three books about aging in a retirement community.

The Irish Country series takes place after WWII (maybe the 50s) in a small Northern Irish town and centers around the new doctor in town and his settling in.  It is 15 books. That should keep me amused for a while.  I have been to Ireland, but not Northern Ireland, and I certainly understand being an outsider and small town life after living in rural Italy for 10 years.  This is not some great work of literature but an entertainment.

I have also read Amazing Place,  What North Carolina Means to Writers  (edited by Marianne Gingher) a collection of observations by North Carolina writers about how living in North Carolina has  influenced them.  From more than one writer I agreed with the idea of how important it is to write in and preserve the language of North Carolina.  And how maddening it is to read an article written by someone who does not know the area and portrays the entire state as full of hicks and rednecks.

(Which brings me off on another branch, I have made the acquaintance of a brother and sister whom I speak with regularly.  And I have a friend who would turn up her nose about me chatting with these folks because ‘they sound country!’.  (I can tell, that growing up, her Momma instilled in her using proper English and not sounding like you are from the sticks beyond.) Anyway, I delight in being back in North Carolina and having conversations like the ones I have with these folks.  And if you put aside some of the words that they use, you can hear a lot of college level vocabulary used correctly.  Even though I don’t think either one of them went to college. Conversations like these are one of the things I enjoy most about being back in the US and especially in North Carolina.  I can over hear (and 99% of the time no one cares if you join in the conversation) great stories and comments and truly appreciate all of what is said and the little nuances of the words.  Keep in mind that after 10 years in Italy I was just getting to the place where this happened.  Anyway I have digressed)

So I have come to the conclusion that what I really like about the Miss Julia series, (by Ann B Ross, the one that is helping me find my repressed, not so gentile, Southern lady) the Deborah Knott series, (by Margaret Maron) and the three books by Effie Leland Wilder is the telling of a story and the use of dialect when appropriate.

Now off on another tangent…the telling of a story, especially for comic effect.  One year when my Momma was still alive, Ben and I were driving from Virginia to Florida to see her.  From the Vienna, Virginia library we always got several books on tape to pass the time.  The Margaret Maron, Deborah Knott series was agreeable to both of us, so that is what we were listening to.  Hawthorn, the black and white dog was in the back.  (I haven’t written much about Hawthorn, a good ole boy dog, he died 11 months before we moved to Italy and before I started my blogs.)  He was a very good traveler and always went with us to Florida while Siena went to the ‘spa’ in Leesburg.  He never minded wearing a seatbelt, would happily settled himself down in the backseat.  The only time we would hear from him was when we went through the Hardees or BoJangles Drive thru.  That big paw would come forward and smack down on the console between Ben and I.  Just to remind us that he was back there and ‘oh, make sure to get me a butter biscuit.’  So we are driving down the road listening to a mystery about North Carolina and the reader was at the part where one of Judge Knott’s nephews was deer hunting and came upon a deer lying in the road.  Now he already had a deer or something in the back of his truck.  So he proceeds to put this small road kill deer in the front seat with him.  And goes on down the road.  Well, the deer wakes up!  At this point, Ben and I are laughing.  I hit the pause button.  The language, the way the scene was set up, the reader’s voice.  It was all too much.  We are laughing so hard.  Tears are coming down my face.  I rewind and we listen to it again.  Laughing away.  Well, that was just too much for Hawthorn!  HUMPFH! was the sigh from Hawthorn as he got up, gave us the death stare and then resettled himself in the back seat.  Ben and I did our ‘ohhhh, we disturbed the dog’s nap’ routine which caused a raised eyebrow from him before calm returned to the car.

All this leads to, the ability of these three women to tell a good story and lead you up to the place where you at least chuckle if not have a prolonged bout of laughter.  The best comic parts of the Miss Julia books are complicated.  You have to have read the whole book and catch all the nuances and know the Miss Julia character.  The same with Margaret Maron’s books.  A lot of Effie Leland Wilder’s three books are just entertaining but probably only to someone in my age group or older except for this one short chapter in the second book, Over What Hill?.  I will just say that it involves a constipated donkey, a French horn and an Intracoastal waterway bridge.  Recently, well after midnight I read that chapter and started laughing out loud.  Ben wanted to hear it, so I composed myself as best I could and read it aloud to him.  Now I am laughing, Ben is laughing and I am wondering what our neighbors on each side must think.  But, I know what Hawthorn would do….

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Hawthorn and I in the early 2000s.

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Are we finished moving yet?

Almost!  I know!  We moved two weeks before Memorial Day and now here it is past Labor Day and I am still whining about moving.

It was not a simple move.  Yes, we managed to get all the boxes in one place, completely filling our guest room.  And I have worked at least 4 days out of every 7, every week,  on emptying boxes.  Part of the problem is that our recycling is only picked up every other week.  So any boxes that I emptied had to be stored inside until the magic once every 14 days pick-up day.  I did figure out that I could load the boxes in the car/oven and drive them to a local park and recycle them there.  And in 90+ degree weather I did that several times.  And keep in mind, Ben is not able to help.  And Ben has to keep EVERYTHING that his daughters and grand daughter ever touched and sent to him.  And the envelopes that it was mailed in.   And lastly, ten years ago, when we packed all this up, at least 40% of it was things that moved from my parents house three years earlier that I had yet to unpack and do anything with.  So it has been difficult.

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There are boxes of glassware.  I considered selling it to the outfit called Replacements which is based about two hours away.  The problem was they would only take certain pieces of the set, not all of it.  And they were not offering that much money.  So I just boxed it all back up and paid someone to move it up to the attic.  In 30 years maybe it will be worth more.

And there are the pictures,

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I unpacked them all and piled them on the bed and then started hanging.  Went through 50 hangers.  Almost through another 20 and that doesn’t count the things hung with regular nails and these

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lightweight plastic frames that are balanced on very thin shelves.  A whole wall of them. I need to go through the boxes of photographs to figure which ones to fill these frames with.

Our friend Debby came over and helped with the hanging.

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Our friend Jim came and drilled holes so I could run wires through a cabinet.  Otherwise I have done all of it, working in short bursts, stopping to make yet another meal.  And truly no one can or should be going through my parents’ belongings but me.  It is a very difficult.  Some times I felt like I just moved things from one side of the room to the other.  Some times I just stand there frozen trying to decide what to do with things.

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What do I do with things like this?  There are three of these.  Paintings done by a German prisoner of war.  (My father taught/worked in a prisoner of war camp towards  the end of WWII.)  My father liked them.  They hung in my child hood home and their home.  These must have been important to him.  So what do I do with them?  There is just no wall space to hang them.

This has been the hardest part of the months and months of this moving adventure.

But I have forged ahead and hung pictures,

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I am still working on this wall.  We are missing pictures.  I know that our storage shed was broken in to several times.  I can’t believe that it was a box of pictures that was stolen.

The sun that comes in the windows to the left both upstairs and downstairs is very strong.  I fear it could fade any photos.  So, yes indeed….

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pictures of my relatives are hanging in my closet.  Ben’s relatives are in his ‘cubby’ under the stairs and out of the sunlight too.   And just a note, if you ever come to visit, absolutely no comments about ‘that picture is crooked!’ ‘That picture should be 1/2 inch over to the left.’ unless you are prepared to climb up on a ladder and fix it!

This week, we lucked out and found this piece at ReStore (the outlet that is connected to Habitat for Humanity).

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I told Ben I was just going to run in and have a quick scratch around.  As soon as I went in, I could hear it calling my name.  I really like the sort retro 60s Asian vibe.  I measured.  Came home, measured, measured more, mentally moved pieces.  Thought about it over night and finally figured out how to make it work so I went back to get it.  (One of the disadvantages to owning a vehicle that furniture can easily fit in to.  Just too easy to buy something and get it home.)  I am real tickled that it was still available and that it has worked out so well.  The two side parts have glass doors with a glass shelf inside giving a good bit of storage.  They are lighted too.  I covered the glass with black fabric since what I have stored in there is not so pretty.  The center part had already had the back cut out so that we could put all the TV stuff in there.  OUT OF SIGHT!  HURRAY!  And the “Watch Birds” are finally settled in.  To the left side, facing the door.

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We are still waiting on my bed and our table.  And I need to find some piece of furniture to give me a small non-kitchen work area and store tools.  But slowly, slowly we are getting there.  The boxes are all open and stored or gone.  I hope it will be a long, long long time before I see any boxes again.

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How’s the garden doing?

Very well, thank you.

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It is quite jungle like.  Sitting in the rocker I am almost hidden.  I admit to enjoying popping up and scaring the dogs next door.  Now that the heat has broken I hope to be able to sit out there much more.

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I am picking a tomato or two every week and a handful of green beans.

This fall I plan to move the bee balm, which has not bloomed at all, to the front.  Probably not enough sun for it back on the deck.  There is one pot (not pictured) with scarlet sage and blue something (name just flew out of my mind) that is the only thing that the hummingbird visits.   I plan to add more of those pots next year.  Maybe rotating them from front to back so they get some sun.  I need to try a different variety of tomato.  This year it was a plant labeled ‘heirloom variety’.  Not impressed.  Next year I should look for Black Russian.

The deck and planter are one of my favorite parts of our renovation.  I am so glad that our contractor suggested the planter box instead of a regular deck rail.

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We bought a car

Finally!  In mid-August.  It took us FOREVER and tried every one of my last nerves.

You might remember the car we bought from Jim and BK in late January.

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“The Big Car”  a 1998 Lincoln Town Car.  For our purposes, at the time, it was a fine car.  Ran well.  Ben’s fold-up wheel chair fit easily in the back.  Large trunk that I could use for storage.  Good car…. until the driver’s side window stopped going up and down.  And then in early July the AC stopped working and then in the period of 10 short days the motors on all the other windows broke so they stopped going up and down.  Ben’s trips away from home became very restricted.  It is one thing to subject myself to riding around in an oven on wheels but something else to subject Ben to it.  (I feared being arrested for elder abuse.)  For a few weeks my trips were very short or made late in the afternoon or on cloudy days.  Even then, wherever I arrived, it appeared that I had just stepped out of a shower.  Almost totally soaked in sweat.

Several months ago, we started looking for a new vehicle when Ben’s whoop dee doo wheel chair arrived.  Most folks buy what is known as a ‘conversion van’.  This is a passenger van that has  been altered.   Seats removed, bottom lowered or roof raised to accommodate the height of a wheel chair with a person sitting in it.  New conversion vans start at $45,000.  Used conversion vans… well you might find one.  “How about this nice one, a 2007 with only 75,000 miles and it is only $30, 000.”  Yeah, right!  We were suffering from serious sticker shock.

Because I was very focused on getting us unpacked I had let Ben handle looking for choices.  He gave his name and email address to car dealers!  Oh nooo!  I would be asleep and wake up hearing him committing us to driving 30 miles away to visit a car dealer.  And what we would be driving in?  Yes, the oven on wheels.  In 90+ degrees of heat and 80% humidity.  I had to put a stop to that.

Finally, we found a ramp system, called Roll- A- Ramp.   click here if you want to see their site

This started a whole round of measuring the inside spaces and door openings of vans.  Silly me, I thought we should be able to find specs like that online.  Not really.  So visits to car dealers along with a tape measure were called for.  Traveling there in the mobile oven.  Keep in mind, we lived in Italy for 10 years.  Thinking that foreigners would be a problem, at a car dealership in Italy, no one really wanted to sell us a car.  The two cars that we bought were from a dealer ship where we were friends with the owners’ son.  No high pressured sales tactics were used.  It was ” Ah Marta, how much you gotta spend? I show you what we have.”   Here, whoa.  They were at the oven door before I even got Ben out.  And the questions.  With some amount of shame I have to confess that I lost my cool. (My cool had left me even before we had left the parking lot at home.)  JUST GET THE KEYS! OPEN THE DOOR! LET ME MEASURE AND TAKE PICTURES!  And then of course Ben would want to see.  And oh the questions he would ask.  Frayed, frayed, frayed last nerves.  It was torture.

And then there was the ramp installers.  Three choices, one nearby, two about two hours away.  Took weeks,  Really WEEKS! to get in touch with them.  Because Ben has questions.  One is off fishing.  One is on a ‘mission trip.’ One doesn’t bother to return calls.  And then there is the installer of the ‘tie down’ systems.  Just as hard to get in touch with them.  Be prepared to hear this story in great detail if you make the mistake of saying something like “well in Italy/France everyone goes on vacation at the same time.  The whole place just shuts down.”  That is true.  But you know when it is going to happen and you know that the whole family will be away and you can plan.  Here, dealing with small family run businesses, it is crap shoot about who will be working and when.   Not just in a concentrated few weeks of August, it has been the whole summer.

So after considering possibilities, costs and thinking about it, we realized that while it would be nice to have a van that Ben could ride into in his motorized chair we just could not afford that.  So we picked a Ford Transit Connect.  It is a small van.  Many workmen use it.  Fits well in tight spaces.  Handles well.  We will be having a  ramp installed in the back which will come right out on to the sidewalk or parking lot.  Ben will still have to walk from the back of the condo to the front parking lot and get in and out of the passenger seat, then get in the motorized chair  (after I get it out) when we arrive somewhere.  Honestly, when he is no longer capable of doing that the chances are very high that I will no longer be able to manage taking care of him.

Ben’s very diligent search finds a brand new 2016 van.  It had been hiding on the lot.  We got a great price but they only want to give us $100 for the ‘big car’.  What an insult!  Why there is enough room to bake 10 pizzas inside that car if it was parked in full sun shine!  Really!  A good pizza oven would cost more than that and this one was mobile!  I list it on Craig’s List and sell it for $700.  Probably could have gotten more but I wanted it to go to a good home.

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So, this is the new car.  It is cute as a button.  His name has not yet revealed itself to me.  (Long time friends remember Sven) It is such a pleasure to ride around in.  Now we are working on getting the ramp and tie downs installed.  Maybe, just maybe, we can get that all done and take a little trip before winter arrives.

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The Big Event

Well, we were all agog here over the eclipse.  Even though it was only 93% here it was pretty cool.  We went up to our library to see it.  If you registered  in advance they offered the hard to get eclipse glasses.

DSCF3003 (4)  You needed a whoopdee doo filter on your camera to get a photo or the fiberglass awning of our local library.  I was amused that using my actual camera, rather than my PHONE, I was able to take a picture.  All those folks with phones only were out of luck even using the awning.

 

It really did look like a yellow crescent moon in a bright blue sky.  At the full 93% it was a little darker but only like it was cloudy not total darkness.  The weather folks on TV say that the temperature did drop as well as production at a local solar farm

The shadows that were filtered through the trees were just as cool.

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Pretty cool day.  One that I am glad I was able to experience.

 

 

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How many times…

How many ways do I need to change our address with our health insurance companies?

 

Last summer, while still in Italy, I had to research and select our supplemental health insurance plans.  One of the most frustrating experiences I have had.  It drove me to tears several times and I always had to have a glass of wine after wards.  Anyway, with the help of several patient ladies here in Raleigh, I picked two companies.  Coventry for Ben and Humana for me.  When signing up I did not want to use our condo (where we are living now) address because the property was rented at the time.  I did not know the renters and did not feel comfortable having insurance related mail sent to that address.  I could not use our address in Oxford because these plans are not offered in Oxford.  I asked our friend Cathy, who lives in Raleigh, if we could use her address.  No problem.  So we did.  Immediately mail from the insurance companies started coming to Cathy.

January arrived and so did we.  Cathy brought us a box of mail, all insurance related.  As the end of January approached and our condo address became available to us I started to change our address with everyone, insurance included.  With the insurance companies I sent pieces of paper changing our address.  I went online and changed our address.  I called customer service and changed our address.

February came, still Cathy was bringing us insurance mail.   I sent pieces of paper changing our address.  I went online and changed our address.  I called customer service and changed our address.

March came, still Cathy was bringing us insurance mail. I sent pieces of paper changing our address.  I went online and changed our address.  I called customer service and changed our address.

April came, still Cathy was bringing us insurance mail. I sent pieces of paper changing our address.  I went online and changed our address.  I called customer service and changed our address.

May came, still Cathy was bringing us insurance mail.  By now I have pretty much had it.  Coventry, Ben’s insurer is the worst.  They want to chat with him over the phone to see how he is doing.  But first, they have to confirm they have the correct person by reviewing his birthdate and address.  When they start rattling off Cathy’s address I end the conversation.  “If you can’t get our address corrected, I don’t have time to talk to you.”  I am still sending pieces of paper changing our address.

End of July, Cathy brings more insurance mail, including these.

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What are these?  Greeting cards from my health insurance company, sent to Cathy’s address.  One to welcome summer and one for 4th of July.  Guess what… I don’t want greeting cards from my health insurance company, I would really rather that you cover more of the cost of my $100 prescription.  And I certainly don’t want them sent to an address that I have spent 6 months trying to change.  Is it an evil plot to raise my blood pressure so that I need a whole new prescription?

 

 

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More walks down memory lane

My Mother hung on to a lot of things

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My Brownie and Girl Scout sash.  (I can’t believe that I have badges pinned on? Or maybe they came off of my uniform?)  If you look at the badges that I earned they do reflect my interests today.  Arts and crafts, animal care, cooking, flowers, sports, and some house that is kind of in the mountains.  Maybe someone will remember what that was for.  Travel maybe(?)  I certainly had to travel with my parents so maybe I managed to get a badge for it?  Who knows?

And of course there is this picture

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Sorry it is so dark, difficult lighting in that room.  Anyway, it is me as a six-year-old showing dismay that our library has fewer books that year than in the past.  This accompanied a newspaper article about how school libraries were no longer getting books from the Louisville public library.   And because so many new schools were opening,  books were being moved to the new schools.

So wonder why I didn’t get a badge in reading?  Reading was very much encouraged by my parents.  I can remember them each having a current book that they would read each night.  I guess at the library, my Mother picked out books for my Father.  I don’t ever remember going to our local library with him.  Thinking of that library  lead to the thought that I have always treasured summer because it meant that I had time to read and that I could read what I wanted.  I was able to ride my bike to the local library.

Anyway, I have made time this summer to read.  I could ride my bike to our local library or even walk, it is close enough.  (It is also HOT here so I have not done either yet.  Also don’t have a bike.)  I am catching up on two series that I have read through the years. Aunt Dimity, very light-hearted, set in England (here is a link  about Aunt Dimity ) and Miss Julia, also not serious literature, set in North Carolina.  (about Miss Julia)  Miss Julia is helping me to get back in touch with my Carolina/Southern strong women attitude.

From reading earlier posts you might remember that I have a very vivid imagination.  (that movie of my life that plays in my head when I first arrive in France)  I was pleased that when I started reading a Miss Julia book again the same images of the homes and the town popped up in my head.  And this is the question, when you read do you see the story and what is happening in your mind?  Is it only people who really love reading and can get lost in it that see this?  Is this something that is taught or does it just develop?

When in the library I also pick up a cook book.  Currently eating our way through Burma (Myanmar) using the book Burma Superstar  (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31084637-burma-superstar)  by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy.  Yesterday was a very tasty okra curry.  It was not quite right since I used a Spanish smoked paprika and the can of tomatoes had Italian basil in it….but what is a little blending of cultures.  So did my parents, who forced me to travel with them and gave me a love of reading, shape my everyday life years and years later.  Yes, most probably.

 

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Summer has arrived

Written July 20, 2017

 

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Finally, a peach sandwich.  One of my absolute favs.  One thing that I missed so much in Italy.  Yes, Michael, Italy has peaches but a strange variety that was never juicy and flavourful.  And we rarely visited the US in the summer so I don’t think I have had one of these for ten years or so.  I make cinnamon toast, then slice the peach on it, sprinkle some more cinnamon on and ohhhhh, Heaven right here in Carolina!   One of the things I was most excited about coming back for.  It’s the small stuff that makes life worth living for.

 

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Who remembers this

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For those of you not from Kentucky,

Stewart Dry Goods

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Stewart Dry Goods Company — alternately known as Stewart Dry Goods, or Stewart’s — was a regional department store chain based in Louisville, Kentucky. At its height, the chain consisted of seven store locations in Kentucky and Indiana. The chain in its later years operated as a division of New York-based Associated Dry Goods.[1]

In addition to its downtown Louisville flagship store, Stewart’s locations could also be found within the Louisville metro area at Oxmoor CenterFayette MallJefferson MallMall St. Matthews, and Dixie Manor. The latter two had previously been L.S. Ayres stores, bought by Stewart’s amid legal difficulties noted in a published history of the Stewart’s chain.

Stewart’s continued as a separate nameplate until early 1986, when parent Associated Dry Goods had merged the stores with Indianapolis-based L.S. Ayres. Later that year,[1] most of the former Stewart’s stores were sold to Ben Snyder’s. In turn, some would sell to Hess’s in 1987 or would close. By 1992, the last surviving former Stewart’s store — the L.S. Ayres location in Evansville’s Washington Square Mall — closed amid the ADG merger with The May Department Stores Company of St. Louis.

The Stewart’s Dry Goods Company Building at 501 S. 4th Street in Louisville is listed as a Building of Local Significance on the National Register of Historic Places.[2] Its façade is featured in one of the opening scenes from the 1981 film Stripes, in which two teens dash out of a cab driven by actor Bill Murray without paying the fare and a passenger played by actress Fran Ryan is picked up

 

Anyway, just another box of things my mother saved and I moved from Florida to Virginia to storage in Oxford, NC for ten years and then to see the light of day in Raleigh, NC.

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Some baby gown and two separate stacks (divided with a note written by my Mother) of cotton handkerchiefs.  One stack was hers, the others belonged to my Grandmother.  Many in my Mother’s stack had stickers on them indicating where they were made, Ireland, Switzerland, Australia….  Gifts from folks, I think.  She did not travel that much.

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This one was just too cute.  In the tiny pocket, a little powder puff, so you could touch up after all those tears.

They are not going back in storage.  They will be freed from their box and see the light of day.  They will appear again in a later post.

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