carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

First Round of Moving

The plan was the condo would be completed on 5/15.  When booking our temporary place I allowed a few days ‘just in case’.  Good thing I did.

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This is how it looked on 5/15.

I whined.  Everyone pulled together and on Thursday, May 18 our very kind friends Debby and Pat came over from Pittsboro to help us move out of the condo.  They came again on Friday with Pat’s very cool VW truck

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It was great for moving mattresses and the large trunks out of storage.

 

Ben was even put to work

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Pat and Debby helped us move, hang the TV, put together our table and organize things.  They were a big help.  We spent our first night there on the 19th and we woke up there on the 20th for my birthday.

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Jim and BK stopped by to help me celebrate but I think I was more than a little worn out from cleaning our temporary place and trying to get us unpacked enough to be able to live comfortably.

The next week with the help of our neighbor, Denis, we emptied our storage unit in Raleigh.  The week after that we rented a van and made a pass at the storage unit in Oxford.  It was great fun to open some of those boxes which have been packed for almost 10 years.

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In the next few weeks we will be going back to the building on Oxford and finally moving everything here.  This will be a lot to absorb in this small space.  I will need to channel my inner Marie Kondo.  And I know that we are so lucky to have all these resources and friends to help us get settled again.  Even though I don’t see the immigrant situation every night on TV I still think of it and realize how fortunate we are.

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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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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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Our New Ride

As part of our move, we had to buy a car.  If we had more money than sense we would have moved our Fiat Multipla.  We loved that car.  It was very comfortable and ran well.

Anyway, we don’t have more money than sense.  So when we first arrived we rented a car for a month.  As that rental period came to an end we started thinking of buying a car.  But we hope that Ben will get a motorized wheel chair.  (He will be evaluated for one next week and told which type is best for him.)  It occurred to us that maybe we should wait on buying a ‘forever’ car until we have the wheelchair in place.  After all it is easier to get the car to fit the chair than to get the chair to fit the car.  So when our friend BK offered to sell us one of her cars, we snapped.   (This is the odd thing about our friend BK.  She has a thing about cars.  She is a PHD.  Was a university professor.  This sweet diminutive, little southern lady who has a thing about cars.  She once had a classic Mustang convertible.  She has had other cars that I would never had bought.  So when I write ‘one of her cars’, if you know her, you know that is not unusual)

And here it is….

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A 1998 limited edition (Cartier) Lincoln Continental, Champagne Color, of course.  The irony  is that for a period of time in the early 90s while still living here in Raleigh, I drove a baby blue Lincoln Town car.  So I seemed to have completely returned to my old life.

This land yacht has leather seats, easy for Ben to slide on.  Room behind the drivers seat for Ben’s collapsible wheel chair.  No lifting it up to get it in and out of a trunk.  Everything in it works including the AC which we used a good bit in February.  And now we have a trade in when we are finally ready to buy a ‘forever’ car.

Given the age of the car and our age I decided to embrace it.  This is the license plate

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Give us a wave if you see us cruising around Raleigh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things I’m happy about

I occasionally do stop complaining.  Here are some things that Ben and I are delighted about, tickled about, happy about….

Fruit    I really expected crappy fruit and very high prices.  We are both very surprised at how good fruit is here.  We have had some very good cantaloupes.  Yes, I know they are not in season and not local, but they are good.  Really good and big.  We can manage to get 4 breakfasts from one of them.  Citrus has also been a surprise.  I was afraid I would never seen a blood orange again, but not the case.  And more variety than what we saw in Italy.  I am happy to be eating Temples and Minneolas again.   And tomatoes!  As good as ones that I used to buy at Esselunga.   Last week I even saw beautiful mix of heirloom tomatoes in my Harris-Teeter that were not too expensive.  But by and large I find groceries expensive.  However, I have to qualify that by writing, that we are shopping at a fairly pricey store, simply out of convenience.  Raleigh is blessed with many grocery store choices.  I know this.  I just need to plan our time a little better and start visiting a store more than 4 blocks away.   I think I am still seduced by 2 grocery stores that I can reach in less than 5 minutes.

Newspapers     One arrives at out door every day.  It is crap compared to what  I remember, but still a delight that it arrives.  I find that of the 60 some households in this complex where I share a recycling bin, we are one of the few that recycles a paper and I think gets an actual paper.

Weather    Oh, I know this is a true exception.  But it is sunny here.  No fog.  And at least one day a week in the 70s.  But I know it is still February and all this can change very fast.  I’ll take every 70 degree that there is.

Basketball!  Oh my goodness!  It is almost too much.  We need to schedule our lives around all these games.  But this too will end.  The almost, last big event, the ACC tournament starts on March 7 and then of course there will be the NCAA tournament.  And then it will be all over but…. by then nice weather will be here for sure.

Work on the condo    Progressing at a nice pace.  All the ripping out is done.  New walls are studded in.  The deck was approved and work on it will start this week.  That means Ben will be able to get in and see things.  I’ll be able to set up the planter bed.  We still have decisions that have to be made but maybe by the end of this coming week most of those will be done.

So by and large we are doing well.  Hope you are too

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Oh yeah, we can have BBQ whenever we want….That helps immensely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, January 24

We finished the first phase of our move.  You know, the move that started December 1.

In January, we had been having unusually mild weather and I felt like it might not last.  The lease period was running out on our rental car.  The pots and pans in our rental unit are all warped.  Rent would soon be due for the storage unit in New Jersey.   All good reasons to rent a van and make the trip back to Ocean City, NJ to collect the last of our belongings.

So this was our third rental vehicle.  Our friends BK and Jim drove us to pick it up.  Ben stayed in the car with Jim.  BK got in the rental van with me.  I started the van.  There were some random beeps.  We checked seat belts.  I checked all the display lights.  The beeps stopped.  We drove off.  The beeps started again.  Randomly!   I’m thinking maybe it is a speed warning so I slow waayyyy down and still the beeps are happening. Randomly!   I am getting more and more irritated.  BK has pulled out the manual and is looking for warning sounds. I’m screaming obscenities because the beeping is driving me crazy!  Randomly!   We arrive to where we are meeting Ben and Jim.  I’m still screaming.  Threatening to take the car back to the rental place.   Go to take off my seat belt and realize it is my cell phone that is beeping.   As I said, it was our third rental vehicle in less than 2 months.

Anyway, Ben and I made it up to Georgetown, Delaware and spent the night there.  The next morning we got up, drove to Ocean City, NJ.  My cousin’s husband, the wonderful Pete, met us at the storage unit.  We (who am I kidding, HE) loaded the van.  It was packed to the gills.  We drove back to Georgetown and met Ben’s son and his wife for dinner.  The next morning we drove back to Raleigh.  And finally on Tuesday, January 24, a total stranger who I found on the web site Moonlighting  (https://www.moonlighting.com/ ) helped me unload all the suitcases.

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So now the first phase of our move is finished.  Several times last week we made visits to the storage unit and found all kinds of treasures.  Teaspoons!  We have more than 1 now.  Pots and pans that actually touch the stove top.  Sheets, more than one set.  And our blue blanket.  It is amazing how a few items can bring such comfort.

We also picked out some of the finishes for the condo remodel.

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Flooring on the far left. Ben’s shower floor in the lower center.  Ben’s shower walls, the large bluish piece of tile.  Kitchen cabinets, hardware and counter top above.

We managed to pick up some replacements for the bits that didn’t move, like a slow cooker, a cast iron skillet, a snow/ice brush for the car (more about the car later) and paint samples to consider.  While that doesn’t sound like a big accomplishment you need to know that even though Ben and I lived in Raleigh, we have been gone almost 20 years.  It has changed a lot.  I keep getting lost.  For those who know Raleigh, you can laugh when you read that I am confusing Oberlin Rd and St Mary’s St.  So that when I arrive at Glenwood Avenue, at not where I thought I would end up, I am so irritated.  And then I keep thinking the Harris-Teeter is Big Star and the Bank of America is NCNB.  And Ben and I have to chat in the parking lot about how we are going to get somewhere, once we get there and start back another discussion ensues.  So any activity takes much longer than expected.  And we won’t even talk about Cary!!!!!!

We had BBQ at Clyde Coopers.  Good seafood in Delaware and Virginia  http://www.thegreatmachipongoclamshack.com/  (Tania and Keith did you get my email about this place?)  Lots of Asian food because we did find the new Super H (Asian market) in Cary and a spiral sliced ham that was soooooo good!  And we have managed to go a whole 7 days without having sauteed yellow squash.

So we are eating well.  Ben has received in-home physical therapy which he is, on his own, keeping up.    We have lots of things that make us feel ‘at home’.  We have seen friends.  We have a car.  We are moving forward with the work on our condo.  I am so grateful that things are going well and that it has been as relatively easy as it has been.  And I feel for all those folks who were approved to immigrate to the US and had their plans STOPPED!  If that had happened to us I probably would have had a heart attack and a stroke.

Now that we are more settled I hope to catch up on the bits of our trip that are missing and work starts on the condo next week so it will be fun to follow and there is the car.  Just wait until you see that!

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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 .  http://www.originalspace.com/.   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

  • Oh my, the ads, the consumerism, “BUY THIS”  “EAT HERE”  “DO YOU HAVE THESE SYMPTOMS?  TRY THIS DRUG BUT DON’T TAKE IT IF YOU HAVE EVER SNEEZED OR LOOKED CROSSEYED AT YOUR MOMMA”
  • 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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