carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

Queen Mary 2 (part 3) and Moving

There are two other parts previously posted if you want to see them.  This is about our crossing and move back to the US in December, 2016

The Queen Mary 2 was refurbished in 2016.  To be honest I don’t remember much from our crossing in 2007.  I do remember this

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And it is still there.

I was very interested in these large reverse glass paintings

 

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It appears that Ben did not share my enthusiasm.

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It is a very grand ship.  Very roomy.  Not over crowded.  A very enjoyable experience.

Many friends helped us with our move.  I had this thing about our move and we needed to close ‘the circle’.  John and Richard jumped right in by allowing us to stay at their place for our last two weeks in Italy, the place where we first lived when we arrived in Tuscany.  Grace and GC helped us with the last of our packing and very graciously offered to feed us dinner our last night there, but as part of ‘closing the circle’ we needed to eat our last dinner in Tuscany where we had our first dinner, Il Cacciatore.

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We have watched Julia grow from being a shy young teenager into an outgoing, loving young woman.

All too soon our time on the Queen Mary 2 came to an end and look who was there to welcome us.

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Along with my wonderful cousin Bonnie and her ever patient husband Pete.  In September, 2007 they had driven us to the Queen Mary 2.  And now here they were to pick us up, care for us, and make our return as painless as possible.

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And so now we are back in the US.  It all seems like a dream…..

 

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Random Pictures

Sometimes I have pictures that I can’t manage a long post about.  So just enjoy these pictures and comments.

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It was on sale.  $5 off so ONLY $11.  I almost choked but bought it anyway to enjoy on a special occasion.  It takes me a whole week now to drink a bottle of wine.  (short pause while my friends in Italy gasp in disbelief)  I am holding my own with beer drinking however.

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About the only fog I see here is when I take a bath and fogged up the windows

 

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I might have to do something with these in the future.

 

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Totally miss these.  We can only afford to buy it when it is on sale.

 

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My attempt at colonizing the front porch.  Turns out that our neighbor’s dog is allergic so I had to move them.  I got all these pansies for $5.  The pots for free from the agricultural recycling bin at the State Farmers’ Market.

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Wait until you see these again….

 

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Spring pasta using leftovers from my fake eggs Benedict.

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Janis Joplin stamps.  Look closely at the sheet.  It is a 45 record sleeve.

 

 

 

 

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What have we learned by renting?

When we were considering coming back, where we were going to live was one of the questions that we needed to settle.  We considered different cities.  We settled on Raleigh and then considered housing.  I can remember that two and a half years ago we were eating Thai food with our friends Debby and Pat when we had a discussion.

In that conversation we batted around lots of choices to consider.  Selling the condo we owned and using that money to buy:

into a retirement village.  Too expensive. We never could have afforded that.

a giant Winnebago and tour around.  Yeah, right, would we have gotten out of the dealership parking lot before we had a huge argument and killed each other?

a one level house.  Probably would have to do some remodeling to make it accessible.  And then I would have all the outside maintenance.  And we couldn’t begin to afford anything in walking distance of Cameron Village.

a condo in one of the many high-rise buildings that are sprouting up around Cameron Village like mushrooms after a spring rain.  A consideration, until you think about day-to-day living.  Parking in an underground structure.   Getting Ben and his wheel chair in and out of the car.  Getting on an elevator to ride up.  Possibly having to get off at lobby level.  Going through a lobby.  Maybe fighting with a set of doors.  Up another elevator.  A set of fire doors.  Down a carpeted hall to our front door.  Tee tiny balcony.  No thank you.

Then it became clear to me that we should just remodel/adapt the condo in Cameron Village that we already owned.  From there we picked a designer/contractor and started drawing up plans.  We could have started work before we came back so it was ready when we arrived but I wanted to see work every day and wanted to see and touch the choices for appliances and finishes not just buy online.  (turns out that brick and mortar stores don’t carry everything now.  We have actually touched the flooring and tile that we picked out.  The appliances, well, I have seen similar in person but exact models, no.  Cabinets all ordered online.  Still have not seen them yet.)

Once this decision was made we needed a place to stay while work was being done.  Through Air BandB we found a short-term rental 4 blocks from our condo.  It is from this place that we  have learned a lot!

Let me just say, that the man renting to us is very nice and accommodating.  Our little nit picky things in no way reflect on the quality of this place.  It is very sophisticated, up town decor and colors, designed for a busy, young city dweller who probably eats out a lot.  Not really designed for two semi old folks who are here all most all the time.  Eat 20 our of 21 meals a week at home.  Need at least 6 feet of desk area to keep every piece of paper that comes their way (not me).  And so on.

I learned the most from the kitchen

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The kitchen in my condo before work started.

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The kitchen in the place we are renting.  Notice the similarities.   Almost no counter space.  Over head cabinets that I can barely reach.

When we came here I was firmly set on getting a smooth cooktop like the one above.  Well after using this one and I am sure glad that I did use it, I have figured out that it would be the ultimate punishment to have one of these.  I can go on and on about how much I dislike this.  I am sure there are folks who really like theirs.  I am just glad I figured out that they are not for me.

I knew I did not want over head cabinets.  That has not changed.  I did figure out that I need more counter space so our dining table will be extra counter space and an eating space.  I am looking into a large sweeper arm/disposal system that I can lower after we finish eating to sweep off any items that Ben tries to leave on the table to colonize the space.   He will have to be watched very closely.  Maybe some type of alarm system that registers the weight on the surface of the table and when things sit there and don’t move…

This rental kitchen has a wall separating it from the main room and the heating/ac unit.  Air does not move in there.  I am so glad that we will have an open plan.  I will be able to see and hear the TV and Ben and have air moving too.

This group of condos has trash stations that you have to carry the trash to.  There are two trash dumpsters and three small recycling bins for 40 units.  The recycling bins fill up within one day of being emptied and then recycling is piled around for the next 13 days.  The big dumpsters never fill up but someone closes the door and I can just barely slide it open.  Our condo has a wheeli trash can and another for recycling.  I just have to figure out where they will live and once a week/every two weeks push them out to the street.

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So work is progressing (as of 4/16).    Insulation is going up on every wall that has been stripped all the way to studs.  That will help with noise as well as drafts.  Inspections have been passed.  Drywall will probably start next week.  Things will move very fast now.   Even though we have changed some things the contractor says we are still on track to be finished by 5/15.   Still enough time for anyone who wants to plan to help us move.  Ha ha.

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What have we been up to, part 2

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Continuing on the deck theme, the planter.  On one side of the deck instead of a regular rail that would have looked right into our neighbor’s deck rail and deck, our contractor suggested a large planter box that acted as the rail and gave some privacy.  It is over six feet long, about two feet wide and the height of a regular deck rail.

February and March were very mild here and we were out looking at a lot of plant nurseries.  It nearly killed me not to buy plants.  But I couldn’t until I had a place to put them.  I might have written and whined about not being able to fill the deck planter until wires were run and inspections were done.  In the mean time I dreamed and planned, shopped and checked out garden books from the library.  Took lots of pictures of existing planters which were commercially planted and maintained.

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Finally, everything was inspected.  With help, I added drainage rock and soil and then I did what I was trying to avoid; went plant shopping and bought plants not on my carefully crafted list!  But they were there.  And needed a home.  (that is why we don’t go to animal shelters or to look at baby chicks)

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neighbor’s planter box in the upper left

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I really like this dwarf  blue ‘mouse ears’ hosta.

I have really jammed plants in there.  Lambs Ear, Sweet Grass, Creeping Jenny, Sweet Potato Vine, Asparagus Fern, Bee Balm, Rudbeckia Daisy, Holly Fern to name a few.  I hope they all make it.  Most will winter over.

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Some things at the back should grow taller and will give more privacy.  And some plants will bloom and hopefully attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  I don’t have the year round height that small evergreens would have given me.  I don’t have the miniature Buddleia (butterfly bush) that I wanted.  Don’t have a miniature hydrangea.  Don’t have a dwarf crape myrtle.   Whine whine whine (I will have that (wine that is) when I get a chair to sit and enjoy the deck)  I do have, thanks to a smart contractor/designer,  the nicest deck in our courtyard.  (And a view of the Broughton High School baseball field)

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What have we been doing?

I have learned that I need to set aside ‘enforced’ days off from going to doctors, dealing with insurance companies or looking for things for the condo.  Days when I can do a few of the other things like clean, cook a meal that takes more than an hour to cook and clean up from, write letters and non condo emails, call friends and maybe just maybe, write something for my blog.  Easter Sunday is one of those days.

So what have we been up to?

Painting a ‘rug’ on the deck.  As part of the remodel we added a deck to the back of the condo which included a ramp to give Ben easier access to the condo.  Our contractor designed it with a large planter, “my garden”.  Spending some time outdoors every day is important to me and this also gives us more room to entertain.  So I wanted the deck to look like part of the rest the place, not just stuck on.

Originally I had a very outlandish plan for painting the floor of the deck.  Something like what this woman did.

http://alisaburke.blogspot.com/2016/06/painted-deck-project.html?m=1

Then I realized that I live in a condo, part of a home owners association.  Just like living in a historic district I couldn’t paint whatever I wanted.  I went to the library, checked out design books, faux painting books, floor cloth books.  Poured over them.  Finally came up with an idea.  A scaled back project. A little more conservative. Submitted an application to the architectural review board and waited.  All the while worrying that it won’t get approved.

Well, it was approved.  So I started work.  It took about six days spread over two weeks (you know, the moment I wanted to do an outdoor project that needed clear warm weather, the rains started!)  Lots of measuring and taping.  But finally it was done.

I am really pleased with the way it turned out.  It is not by any means perfect.  There was some ‘bleeding’ under the tape.  It has this nice aged, worn look which is what I was going for.

Then one day last week I realized where my design inspiration came from…

The door mat at the condo we are renting.  Heee heee.  No need to ponder and research.  Just look out the door.

 

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On the Queen Mary 2 (part 2)

This is a continuation of our trip on board the Queen Mary 2 taken in December, 2016.  Read part 1 if you missed it.

Our crossing of the north  Atlantic in December took 7 days.  The sea was very rough.  It is December in the north Atlantic.  Get over it.  We went outside, briefly, one day to see the kennels and think about what the good dog Nerone would have done on this trip.  The Queen Mary 2 is the only vessel that will take dogs on the transatlantic crossing.  Many folks who are moving use this as a way to get their dog to or from Europe.  Our friend Lynn who just moved to Italy came over that way with her dog Flori.  On our vouage there were at least three other sets of folks who were moving from Europe to the US.  If you want to bring more than one suitcase it really is the way to go.

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What other things did we do?  We went to the very well stocked library every day.  We heard several talks given by Nicki Chapman the host of Escape to the Country and other shows.  That is a series that we had watched, so we found her very enjoyable.  I managed to make it in the hot tub 3 times.  I do wish that I had pictures of that.  The seas were very rough.  The indoor pool seemed to have a giant wave machine in it as the ship would slosh up and down.  It was rather fun to watch.  Ben got bronchitis and we got to visit the medical clinic.  (thank goodness for travel insurance which covered all the costs)  And that was about it.  That is probably less than one tenth of the things that we could have done.  It was just that the sea was very rough.  Fortunately I had Ben in his wheel chair to give me stability.  Unfortunately I had to push that wheel chair every where.  That wore me out.  So by the time we reached someplace I just wanted to sit down, taking pictures was the last thing on my mind.  Even though we were eating three full meals a day, I lost weight.  I really was worn out.  And there was a lot of dressing up to do.

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How do you dress someone with balance issues on board a ship in rough seas?  You make them hold on.  The handicapped bath room was one of the best designed bathrooms that we have seen.  It was really designed for someone in a wheel chair.  This was about the only time Ben was out of his wheel chair for the trip.  The sea was very rough and we did not want to chance him taking a fall.

So how about some food pics

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surf and turf

 

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This was supposed to be rabbit. I think it was a dry chicken wearing bunny ears disguised as bacon.

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A very nice Indian meal

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Lamb and mushy peas

On the last night the Chefs and cooks come out and parade around.  It is impressive to see how many there are, probably over 50.

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The best meal I had was a bowl of Thai shrimp soup.  For breakfast and lunch rather than going to the dining room we went to the open buffet.  Ben had sushi most days and I had whatever ethic food was offered.  That was where I had the good soup and most of the meals that I thought were good.

To be fair to the Queen Mary 2, there is nothing wrong with the food in the restaurant.  It is important to know my filters.  I worked in the restaurant/culinary industry with many talented chefs and students.  I lived in Europe for 10 years and have traveled other places too.   At the risk of sounding like a spoiled over privleged brat,  I do not get excited about most ‘classicly prepared dishes’.  (like most of those above)  I do get excited about ethic food that has different and strong flavors.  I do get excited about a main ingredient that stands by itself not nappped in sauce, think a steak with just a blessing of very good olive oil, salt and pepper.  (at out of the way restaurants in the Tuscan countryside that is how food is prepared)  I do get excited about taking a traditional preparation and giving it just a little twist…. oh Menchetti how we miss you.   But for many, many folks without these filters/opinions the food will be a highlight.

Look for one more post with some more pictures of the ship.

 

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