can't you see the sunshine….

Fixing the icemaker

This might be a little dull. This is basically a ‘how to’ for me to use the next time I need it.

Our kitchen is not large. It was hard to pick out appliances. I had to do a lot of shopping online with out touching, opening…that sort of thing. The fridge was especially difficult because I wanted fridge on top, freezer on bottom, not French door. We ended up with a European brand, Blomberg. It is great. Very quiet, which is important since we sleep right next to it. The only thing, there is a design flaw. The ice maker.

Many Europeans are not big on ice. So an icemaker is an afterthought for the manufacturer. A month or so after delivery, the icemaker in our beautiful fridge was frozen solid, not ejecting ice, water overflowing in to the ice collection tray. The manufacturer replaced the fridge. This happened TWO MORE TIMES!!!!!!. In November 2017 we got our third brand new fridge. Every time I pointed out that the power supply had been cut before this happened. When the power comes back on, the icemaker automatically refills without emptying the already made ice. That water either freezes and makes the cubes too heavy to empty or just runs right off into the collection bin.

Well, we putted along just fine, no power outages until this summer. So out came the repair man again. This time he fixed it and showed me how to fix the problem, rather than replacing the whole fridge. I knew it was only a matter of time with all the thunderstorms we have been having that I would have to fix it by myself. I decided to take some pictures this time and write a few notes so it won’t be as much of a guessing game for me next time.

Turn the power off. This screw has NOTHING TO DO WITH ICEMAKER. DO NOT UNSCREW! Blue and white connection does not need to be pulled out! Disconnect. Pull ice maker out. Thaw. Re-connect then put ice maker back.

Push the ice maker back. And slide off

And here’s the way to rehook the wiring!

This was not hard to do. Certainly worth doing, considering what a repair service call would cost.


Elephant Ears Again

We recently suffered through our second long stretch of 90+ degrees heat. Finally it was broken by some rain.

Needless to say, I was fasinated by the water collecting on the leaves. I am also fascinated by the size of this leaf.

It measures 28 inches long by 22 inches. Not as big as this one that we saw in the greenhouses at NC State.

That is my friend Roy standing beside it, to give you an idea of the size of the leaf.

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The Corpse Plant

When we still lived in Italy, I started following this blog. The writer, lives about a mile from where we are now. Following his blog gave me a good idea of what to expect garden wise before we moved back. Now that we are back I have just kept reading it. I was tickled when on Tuesday, he posted about a corpse plant blooming at nearby NC State University. It wasn’t until Thursday AM that the newspaper picked up the story. This was a case where being connected on social media paid off. Thanks Arthur!

Wednesday, at our exercise class I talked with our friends Roy and Marcia about going to see it. And we agreed if I could arrange tickets, we would go. It was free but, online reservations were required. Accessiblity for Ben and Marcia was an issue. Parking on campus can be difficult. Accessible parking even more so. Viewing slots were for a 15 minute period. After weighing the hour needed to get Ben ready to go somewhere, the logistics of finding two handicapped accessible parking spaces and the fact that Ben was not nearly as excited about seeing this plant as Marcia and I were, I decided that he might just not go. Roy was dragooned to be the driver allowing us to be dropped off if no parking was available.

Well, our after 5:00 PM viewing time on Friday meant we could get on campus and park fairly close by. So after a bit of standing in line we got to see the much hyped Corpse Plant.

This will give you an idea of the size of it. It was sitting on greenhouse table.

The bloom started to open on Thursday. It was already wilting by the time we got to see it, which is normal. It is very short lived. As you can see from the newspaper photo the center part had been erect but on Friday was now folded over.

If you are able to read the poster about the heat you can see that the plant heats itself up to attract pollinators and produces a smell similar to rotting flesh. By the time we were there it was more like a fish shop smell. Really not that strong. Some close ups.

And this bit of history, lifted from the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden website.

When it was discovered in the rainforest of central Sumatra in western Indonesia, by the Italian botanist and explorer Dr. Odoardo Beccari in 1878, the stories caused quite a sensation and disbelief among European botanists. Not until the first specimen flowered in cultivation at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England in 1889 did the world take notice. During the Victorian era plant hunting was at its height and unusual specimens were enjoyed by a discerning and curious audience. It was also an era where governesses protected young women from such an indecent sight. Whenever the Amorphophallus titanum, which grows only in western Sumatra, has flowered in cultivation it has attracted an enormous amount of attention. The 1998 bloom attracted more than 5,500 visitors to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and worldwide media attention as the first documented bloom of this species in the United States since 1939. A 1996 bloom of this species attracted thousands of people to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, as did a 1970 two-day flowering in Java which attracted 34,000 viewers. It was introduced to the United States in 1937 when the New York Botanic Garden and the daily press kept the public informed of the progress of the gigantic bloom grown from an imported tuber. The spectacular event so impressed people that when a second specimen flowered (from another imported tuber) two years later it was designated as the official flower of the Bronx, symbolic of the largest and fastest growing borough of the City of New York. The discovery of this species must rank as one of the greatest highlights of natural history exploration.

So I was very tickled to get to see this. Thanks to the owner of the plant, a Doctorial student at NCSU, Brandon Huber. And thanks to NCSU for allowing the public in to see it too. It really was cool!

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Tomato Update

It has been a good year for tomatoes. Unfortunately, I did not pick tasty varieties or varieties that appeal to my taste. My plants are producing though.

These are the plants on the front porch. Taken 7/10/19. The far left plant is the one I am growning for NC Tomato Man. Those are green beans behind the tomato plants. The green beans are on pots below the porch. The early and long heat wave effected the green beans. Pretty plants but no beans.

Close up of the ‘experimental plant’.

That is a teaspoon. The three yellow ones are from the trial plant. The big (Yes, BIG) one is Bendigo Drop. And the little ones which are smaller than blueberries are Mexican Midgets. They have the most flavor. The Bendigo Drop might have a good flavor but I can’t leave them on the vine to ripen because the city wildlife keeps sampling. At least I don’t have to deal with deer!

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Selecting a caregiver

In the Spring, Ben went through an evaluation by the Movement Disorder Clinic at UNC. I knew this clinic exsisted. Why I waited to schedule an appointment with them I have no idea. Anyway, we are now under their care. It is a good group. Run by a woman neurologist. They treat the whole person and me too!

As part of their reccomendations they suggested that since we have no family living nearby, we look in to getting some outside care for Ben. So I could be gone from the house for more than 2 hours without coming back to some sort of disaster. So that was the project for June.

Last October, Ben and I went to the Caregivers Summit. We collected business cards from many caregiver groups that were exhibiting there. I made notes on the cards. Like, did the rep look up from her phone when I approached the booth? Did the rep speak to us? There were two that I rated highly. So, in June, they were the first two that I called.

For businesses offering care givers it seems that the inquiry process requires two people. One who comes out to ‘sell’ and a nurse who follows up to assess what type of care is needed. I called the first group and set up appointments.

Now some background. I used to interview people to hire for a job that required following driving directions. (This was in the dinosaur age, before GPS!) If possible, I would set up the interviews at a hotel in Raleigh that was difficult to find. It required the applicant to listen to me and get the directions and follow them. If the applicant didn’t show up on time or was flustered because they got lost. Strike One!

So first group. Making appointments. Two are required. Okay, how about the ‘sales’ person the first day. The nurse the next day. (this is my top choice. The one I rated highly in October) Appointment lady says okay. I confirm two appointments with her. Two times before I end the phone call, I confirm the TWO appointments.

‘Sales’ guy comes. We talk. TWO times during our discussion I mention that nurse is scheduled for her appointment the next day. Next day, nurse appointment time comes. No nurse. No phone call. After 30 minutes of waiting I call. Ohhhhh, everyone is SURPRISED that an appointment was scheduled. No one seems to be able to find this. We agree on a new appointment several days in the future.

Next week, appointment time for the nurse. Fifteen minutes after scheduled time with no arrival, I call. Thirty minutes later she shows up. No apology. No explanation. With an attitude that she shows me she clearly does not want to be there. Well okay.

We move on to the second group. I make the phone call to set up the appointments. The woman wants to send me an email. That’s fine. Now my email is not difficult but it can be confusing. I know that. It has the word ‘to’ in it. Not too. Not two. Not 2. When giving out my email I explain that it is all lower case, no numbers, all words. Then I say the email address and then I spell it. Starting with ‘t o’. It’s a phrase. ‘Too’ ‘two’ or ‘2’ would make no sense. Next day, phone message “your email address ‘two…..’ bounced back as undeliverable. Please call me.” Strike one! Sales person comes. Nurse comes. I decide to possibly overlook ding bat appointment person.

Third Group. Appontment made. Owner of company and nurse are coming. Day of appointment, about 30 minutes before, I get a phone call. Owner of company has been in an accident. Flurry of phone calls and rescheduled appointment. Appointment day comes. Basic sales person and someone else who I have no idea what her function is arrive. This sales person is the only one to comment on how well adapted our space is for Ben. And how pretty our deck is. They move up several notches. But they want their person to come 8 hours a week. We can’t afford that. We need only 4 hours a week. They agree to see if there is a person who just wants 4 hours and get back to me. Several days later she gets back to me. We make arrangments for someone to start two weeks later. But the nurse still has to come. Nurse shows up, 15 minutes before the care giver starts her first shift with us.

The caregiver is very close to my age. Looks a good bit like me. I am fine with this. For what she needs to do, she is just fine. So now, I can leave from 2 until 6 on Thursday afternoons. I can actually go shopping. Go to multiple stores and have enough time to try on multiple things. No more buying several sizes, colors, bringing them home, trying on and taking back. I could go see a movie. I could have lunch with a friend. I could wander around the library. I could go swimming. A whole world is waiting…..

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Ben’s Birthday

Ben’s birthday was July 1. We celebrated on the 30th by having brunch at Poole’s Diner in downtown Raleigh.

We were a big group so we had to wait for a table. So we had a drink while we were waiting. It was not hard to get Ben in and out of the restaurant. Food and service were good. Sorry no food pics. I felt like it was a nice size meal, without feeling stuffed and without dragging home left overs. I would certainly go back.

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Freaky Elephant Ear

I have been growing elephant ears for years now. This is the first time I have ever seen this.

When I first noticed this, I was inside looking at the plant, thinking this two leaves that are just entertwined. I went out to look.

So it is two leaves on one stem. Never seen that in all the years of growing these bulbs.

Elephant ear bulbs seem to do real well for me. I have grown and given away bulbs for years now. Hopefully some of them are still growing in Italy. I know that the family that bought our property in Virginia still plant elephant ears every year. Ohhh, I don’t know if that is the legacy that I want to leave….

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Happy Birthday Ben!

We recently went to a conference for the disorder that Ben has, PSP. It is similar to Parkinsons, but different. A very nice thing that the drug company, UCB, did was to bring in a professional photography company and have them pose us and take pictures. Thanks to Jonsar Studios for these great pictures.

Ben and I have been together for a long time now. We still have a lot of fun and I wish him many, many more wonderful birthdays and all my love.

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How’s the yard looking?

Very well, that is so nice of you to ask… Except for a difficult 10 days of 90 degrees plus dry weather in MAY, it is been a fairly decent Spring. A good bit of rain. Sometimes too much. But more or less spread out.

The bee balm is being a little pushy, but the day lillies held their own. I’m real pleased with them and the blue salvias.

The butterfly bush has finally gotten settled in (only took two years!). It is doing well this year.

This is where the ramp from the deck ends, at the back of our condo. The hydragenas in the pots were $5 half dead ones from Lowes. They have perked up and are about to bloom again. My friend, Jim, gave me the vinca in the two pots in back.

Here’s the deck. Doesn’t it look great! It is so nice to sit out there. Guppy now sits beside me in the blue chair. I’m waiting until she starts expecting her own glass of wine….

I finally figured out something to do about the ugly telecommunications post.

I relocated some of the elephant ear forest and the flamingos… much nicer looking than the ugly box.

I am aware that we are fortunate to have this space, the time and the means to be able to indulge in something that is just pretty. It does provide me with a huge amount of enjoyment and the activity that I look forward to every year.


Hummingbird Heaven

My friend Debby lives near Jordan Lake. She is out in the country and has a beautiful yard. She also has two hummingbird feeders and a whole lot of hummingbirds. She makes a gallon of food a week for them.

It was great fun to stand between the two feeders and watch the 10 to 12 hummers fighting over space at the feeder.

She also has the coolest dragon flies that I have ever seen.

It is in the lower right corner of the picture. White body/tail, very flashy wings!