can't you see the sunshine….

Lawd, Have Mercy! Marie Kondo help me now!

When we were in Italy, I had a vague idea of who Marie Kondo was.  For those who don’t know, she is a Japanese woman (definitely OCD) who wrote the book,  ” the life changing magic of tidying up”.  Any way, when we were in Ocean City, NJ I bought her book from a charity shop and began to read it.  It has some valid points and is motivational.  And I know that we need to get rid of more than we already have gotten rid of.  And that I need to become a curator, “a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection”.  When we finally unpack; our lives, what we inherited from our parents, grand parents will all be housed in about 800 square feet.  If anyone needs Marie Kondo it is us.  And I will need to get it down to a manageable amount.

So what have we done this week.  Our first full week in Raleigh.  Monday was still icy and I was still unpacking.  Fortunately this rental has a large closet that was completely empty with hangers too.



I have completely and totally filled it.  Most of Ben’s clothes are unpacked.  Only my winter clothes are unpacked.  (MARIE!!!!!!!)

Tuesday  we had a visit from Ben’s physical therapist.  To assess  him.  Ben had a doctor’s appointment scheduled but I had to cancel it because I couldn’t be sure that I would be able to get him safely to the car. It warmed up nicely on Tuesday and by late afternoon we were able to venture out.   We managed to make it to Bed Bath & Beyond and found a ‘wedge’ pillow  to raise Ben’s legs at night and a ‘boyfriend’ pillow for me to use on the whoop dee doo Italian leather couch which is so large that I could sleep on it, but sitting on it is sooo uncomfortable.  And to Walmart to finally buy a printer.  Then we met our friend Cathy for Asian food.  Back home, trying to watch a basketball game and trying to set up the printer was most difficult.  Finally, Ben figured it out and got it working but he has no idea how he did it.  A backlog of printing followed.

Wednesday was a trip to Oxford to see our friends Jim and BK.  Ben had seen them briefly last week while I was confabbing with the credit union lady about financing the remodel of our condo. So this was the first time I had seen them.  We had a nice long visit at the BoJangles in Oxford.  Can’t go  wrong meetin’ at the Bo!

Thursday was another meeting with the credit union and Ben’s first session with his physical therapist.  And we managed to squeeze in a trip to Raleigh’s Farmers’ Market for lunch and a little bit of shopping at Imports at the Market.  There is only one garbage can in our rental place so I thought a few nice flower pots (on sale because it is winter) would work as trash cans for now and nice flower pots for later.

Friday came along, another glorious day.   After the first of the week when a bottle of water in the car froze completely solid, we were back to 70 degrees (21 C).  Go figure.  We hustled over to Pullen Park so that Ben could take a shower in the family, handicapped bathroom and then back to meet our contractor, Reid from Original Space .   We had a good talk with him and looking forward to working with him.

And now today, a visit to the medical supply store to order some of the things the physical therapist thinks will make it easier for Ben and me too.  We rented a storage space so that we were able to empty all the empty suitcases out of the rental car and we will have some place to store all the suitcases which are hanging out in a storage space in NJ once we collect them.  And a visit to Pier One where I found melamine plates on sale.  I am not complaining, but the four large square plates that we have to use here each weight about 16 ounces before any food gets on them.  I can barely pick them up.  I am terrified of chipping them when using or washing them (no dishwasher).  Something needed to be done.  The news ones were greatly reduced in price and weight.  We’ll see how well they hold up.

So that was this week.  I made it through the whole week without crying.  And I have a list of things I like

  • Therapists that come to the house
  • Grocery stores that are open 24 hours.  Other stores that are open everyday all day long
  • A CVS Pharmacy that is more of a 7-11 for students and has so little drug dispensing business that the pharmacist is able to take all the time in the world and chat with me
  • Meal Deals at grocery stores… The Fresh Market offered for $15, a 2 lb meat loaf, a box of risotto mix, a bunch of asparagus tips and a pound cake.  There is no way I could have bought the raw ingredients and made all that for $15
  • Apple TV,  now that we have figured it out (and gotten the EVIL little remote to work) and gotten a cable logon from our friends we are watching all kinds of things
  • Folks who come and chip the ice off of the walks and clear away the snow
  • Being so close to shopping that I really should walk instead of driving
  • seeing so many folks walking around all the time
  • living in Cameron Village

Things I don’t like

  • The big cars.  I saw one today that had a vanity plate that said ‘family of 4’ but could have easily carried around 8 people
  • The crappy local newspaper.  The Raleigh News and Observer used to be a good paper.  To me it now seems as if it is very locavore.  The local nightly news is that way too.  It is no wonder that no one here seems to care about folks in Syria or any where else in the world.  If a bomb didn’t go off since the last news cycle no one seems to know about anything else unless they make a real effort to be informed.  We miss the BBC.  We miss knowing what is going on elsewhere in the world
  • Packaging!  I can not believe how hard it is to get some of these packages open.  Really!  And the Tide  (laundry soap) package where you had to fit some little bit back in before it would zip shut.  Get over that.  Fair Warning!  If you bring a child in to this condo there is a package of laundry soap that is not sealed up tighter than Ft Knox sitting on a shelf behind a closed door that your child might sniff out like a bloodhound and chomp down on.
  • The total obsession with fame and stardom and who are some of these people…what have they ever done?  Why should I care?  And why are there so many programs on TV  reporting their every move…


So I almost forgot the best part.  I told my cousin that I was reading Marie Kondo.  Now my cousin has a lot of things.  All very neatly kept.  All very clean.  All rotated by season.  I am not criticizing.  She has a lot, but she uses and enjoys these things.  She is also one of the nicest, sweetest people you would ever want to meet.  Truly nice.  When she heard I was reading Marie, the remark was “Yeah. I follow her blog.  She has gotten married.  She has a child now.  Let’s see how ‘tidy’ she keeps things now”  And there was just the tiniest little hint of malevolent glee.  Too bad there isn’t an Access Tokyo that would tell us when Marie Kondo looses it because her child did not put a toy back in its place.


I’ll end with a picture of flowers I bought in the grocery the first week we were here that still look great and the going away card from Howard and Margaret and a Christmas card or two.












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How Long……

On our second full day back in the US, I reach for a carton of eggs in the grocery store and quietly say after seeing the price, “I miss my chickens”  and tears just start pouring down my face.  This is not the first time that crying has happened and I begin to wonder how long it will go on for.

Apparently, for a while.  Later the same day I am in the wine store, reaching for the same shaped bottle of Italian rose that I always bought, but now instead of costing 3 Euros a bottle (less than $3.50) it is more than $15 a bottle.  Tears just come out….

I truly don’t remember this sort of sadness/grief when we moved to Italy.  Then, I cried when I said goodbye to many folks, but everyday in Italy as we moved about and tried to get organized.  No.  But almost every day in December leading up to the move, I have cried.  I feel like I will never see Europe again.   I remember back to a time many years ago, in a women’s locker room at a public pool in Fairfax County, Virginia I overheard a conversation.  I could not see the women but I think I remember that they were neighbors or knew each other from church.  One was older than the other.  Basically, the conversation was

I haven’t seen you in a while

Yes, we were in (some European country).  Probably our last trip

No, really,why?

Well, it is just too hard for (fill in the blank husband name) to travel any more

Oh, I am sorry to hear that.  He really can’t travel?

Yes, fill in the blank medical reasons


And I just sat there on the other side of those lockers and cried for the woman who would no longer be traveling.


Now I find my self in that position.  It doesn’t help for the political climate to be the way it is now and for many folks to just ask “Why would you want to move back now?”  Well, it did not turn out the way we thought it would, 12 months ago when we  started planning this.  And more than ever I know as difficult as this move has been emotionally, what would it have been like if I had not had all my wits and physical capabilities?


So I am trying to be positive.  I am trying to move past my very deep grief over leaving Italy and Europe.  I am trying to reconcile being old.  But, Man Alive, It’s Hard!


And, I’ll just say this.  What I feel and what I have been through is NOTHING compared to what the refugees from Syria have faced.  Really, in the grand scheme of things, I have absolutely nothing to whine about.


How’s the move going

The snow on the East Coast has allowed me to take a forced rest day.  So I have a bit of time to think and write.  We got a lot done this week.  I’m pretty pleased.

We left Ocean City, NJ on Monday which was still a holiday so the traffic was not too bad.  We choose to go down through Delaware and Maryland to Virginia Beach and spend the night.  Ben grew up in that area and his high school reunions are held at a hotel there on the beach.  The hotel has a nice indoor pool so I don’t mind stopping there.  Tuesday AM we had to wander around and make a stop at Bojangles.  Then, of course, once we got to North Carolina  we had to stop for BBQ.  We finally made it in to Raleigh about 4:00 and immediately got lost.  I thought that US 64 would turn into New Bern Avenue and take us right in through town.  But it doesn’t.  Anyway, we ended up on the Beltline, I think, but it could have been I 40, Lawd, I don’t know but I saw Person Street and skedaddled off.  I knew that would take me to Krispy Kreme!   I can find my way from Krispy Kreme and I did.

We are staying at a rental condo in Cameron Village about 6 blocks from the one I own that we will soon begin remodeling.  I saw the place we are renting online.  It is very ‘Urban Chic”.  Which is fine if you are 20 something years old.  All the flat surfaces (tables) are either LOW or HIGH!  Only the kitchen and bathroom counter tops are a normal height.  There is nothing wrong with this.  I am not criticizing.  One day the owner of this property will be old too.  He will realize the difficulties then.  Ben in his wheel chair (the sofa and chair are about 20″ from the ground or 3′ off the ground.  I would have to pull him out of the sofa and for sure he would fall off the little 3’ off the ground ‘tractor’ chair.  So he remains in his wheel chair) had no where to spread out his massive computer empire.  And then there was the closet.  Very nice closet.  Lots of hangers.  Half of which are easily over 6 feet off the ground.  I hauled in a few suitcases are started to unpack.  This is our home for the next few months, might as well get organized.  While I unpacked I pondered a few solutions.

Wednesday AM I found a console table with a drawer on Craig’s List for $20 that was nearby.  We went over to buy it.  We had lunch at the K&W. HMMMMM!  Fueled on sweet tea  I was ready to take on Target.  We picked up a few things that we needed including a step stool which I carefully placed on Ben’s mobility cart.  Checked out.  Got him in the car.  Answered the phone yet again.  (Why all of the sudden are people phoning me?  I haven’t talked on the phone this much in years.  We have this little EXPENSIVE tinker toy phone that costs even when someone calls us.  I am just watching $40 drain away while I listen to things you could send me in an email!  And oh, if one more person says ‘well, just look it up on your phone’  I don’t know what I’ll do.  Hello America, not everyone carries the internet around in their pocket)  Anyway, we were off to the credit union to start the process of getting a loan for the work that needs to be done on the condo.

I went in to the credit union just to chat and see what paperwork that I would need.  Got the information and we left.  It took a considerable amount of driving around the parking lot before ‘Goldilocks’ here found an exit that she liked.  The credit union is located on a blind curve of a 4 lane that leads from downtown out to the suburbs and beyond.  Even though it is in the city and a 35 MPH zone, folks are driving wayyyy faster than that. Remember, I drove in Italy.   I was not liking the idea of coming and going to this place.  We finally make it home, unpack, haul in more suitcases to unpack and I realize no step stool.  Left it on the mobility cart at the Target.  And then the chat about snow started to become serious.

Thursday morning arrives and we are up at 5.  Why not?!  After getting Ben out of bed two times yesterday AM, at 5 and then again at 7, I firmly tell him ‘tough luck!  you are staying up.  So I  wander around, have a Krispy Kreme doughnut when it occurs to me that I live 5 blocks from a 24 hour Harris-Teeter grocery store.  I can shop before all the ‘snow madness’ shopping starts.  So I am in the store well before 8, having a pleasant shopping experience.  By the time I leave an hour later, buzz has picked up in the store.  Back to unload groceries, bundle Ben up, get him in the car and start on today’s list which included buying two twin size mattresses.  The bed we are sleeping on is less than 1′ off the ground.  And the mattress is soft.  Again, I am not criticizing.  It is a very comfortable bed until you want to get out of it.  It takes all of my strength to haul myself out.  Wednesday  AM taught me that I can’t keep getting Ben out of this bed as it is.  In our new place we are going to need twin size mattresses.  We realize that we could just buy them now, put them under the king size mattress and raise it up.  Making life easier for both of us.  So very near the top of the list, buying mattresses.  Also on the list going back to Target to get the step stool that I left behind (which was waiting right on the mobility cart where I put it) and working again on getting a loan.  And oh, by the way, I had to spend an hour and very expensive phone time trying to make doctor’s appointments.  We manage to get all that done and go to a different credit union (closer, easier to get in to and out of) and start the loan process. More talk of SNOW.  Inches!  And very cold temps afterwards for DAYS that will make melting difficult.

Ben has balance problems.  It just makes sense for him to not go out in icy conditions. Before we left Italy, I had made him an appointment for next week which would have handled prescription refills but I am afraid that he will not be able to keep it because of the ice and snow.   So, Friday, first thing a doctor’s appointment that took me an hour and numerous calls, on Thursday, to arrange.   You know, you read all this about researching your doctor, picking this, picking that….well you can do that, but if the doctor is not accepting new patients or not accepting Medicare patients then all the research is for nothing.  One of the offices that I talked to must have sensed my frustration and gave me 3 choices that would accept us.  I called one and lucked into an appointment for Friday AM.  A very nice woman doctor, very calm, very zen.  And a geriatric specialist.  She spent well over an hour with us.  Not rushed.  Taking a good complete history.  Changing one or two meds.  And then announcing ‘Ben is considered “homebound”.  Medicare will pay for a physical therapist to come to the house and get him up and moving’. I’ll write that up’  Well, it took every bit of self control that I have to keep from getting up and running over and hugging her.

Ben squared away, we have lunch at Char-Grill.  Hmmmm, good hamburgers.  Off to give documents to the credit union lady and then Ben gets to take a shower.  Until you do this, don’t judge.  It is very hard even in the US to find a handicapped accessible apartment or temporary house to rent.  I picked the place we are renting because of location.  It gets us in this neighborhood and gets us used to the area and traffic and the flow and feel of the place.  We bring our own raised toilet seat and other aids.  But a step in bath tub is a no no for someone Ben’s size with balance problems.  I knew this when I made arrangements to rent.  Before agreeing to the place I contacted the public park systems and discussed using the ‘family’ handicapped shower room at the indoor pools.  All set.  And this is on thing where no one told me one thing in an email only to have it all be changed when I arrived.  Ben had a very welcomed shower.  The guys delivering the mattresses showed up and they worked out fine.  It only took 3 trips to the drug store to get most of Ben’s prescriptions (and $200) and I was home before the storm hit.

So what got done?  I got to take a bath in a bathtub.  The kitchen is pretty well organized but all the pans are warped  and my pans are still in NJ.  I can live with warped pans for a few weeks.  This morning Ben got to get up at 3 and go back to bed until 5 and then get up again and then go back to bed until  7 and I can still walk and my back is not screaming in pain.  He has space for his computer and thanks to a trash pile I have a table for mine.  All the documents are submitted for our loan and we have a closing date of 1/27.  I washed three loads of clothes and dried them and put them up.  ALL IN ONE DAY!!!!! At this time of year in Italy that would have taken a week!  Ben has a doctor we are both happy with and enough drugs for a bit.   I have figured out that the giant TV which is almost as big as I am is an ‘Apple TV’ and has Netflixs and Hulu and with my friend BK’s help now has ESPN so I am hopeful that I will be able to watch UNC and Carolina play basketball tomorrow afternoon.  I don’t know of a better note to end this on, except to acknowledge that we know we are fortunate to have what we have and to be in the position of being able to make choices and to move about the world freely.










I’m looking forward to…

Part of a continuing series

A COLD DRAFT MILLER LITE BEER, served to me at a restaurant or bar while sitting outside in the Carolina sunshine

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