carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

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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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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The Last Move

You’d think I be through chatting about moving.  I mean really, how long can this go on?  Even after we moved the suitcases that we brought with us from Italy in May there was still a storage building in Oxford, NC.  We finally got our ducks in a row and cleared that out on Tuesday, June 27.

Ten years ago when we were packing up our house in Virginia and getting ready to move to Italy, we had no idea how long we would be gone for, if we would buy a house in Italy or what.  I had a few pieces of furniture that were family pieces so I went ahead and gave those to family members.  We sold a lot.  But there were some pieces that I just thought we should keep along with lots of pictures and mementoes.  What to do, what to do?  I looked into a storage unit, kind of expensive.  How long would we need it for?  It finally occurred to me that buying a ‘garden shed’ from a big box hardware store and planting it somewhere might just be cheaper in the end.  Our friends Jim and BK graciously agreed to let us have a shed built on their property.  After 18 months the shed had paid for itself versus what we would have been paying for a storage unit.  And ten years later it certainly had paid for itself.

U-Haul has this wonderful service where you can arrange for helpers if you are moving.  So I rented a truck, arranged for helpers in Oxford and another set here in Raleigh.  Loaded Ben up in the truck and we were off.

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This is what it looked like when we started loading.  There are 4 of those tall bookcases, packed full of boxes.  The piece of furniture on the far right, full of boxes too.  Lots of boxes.

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Empty at last.

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Back in Raleigh, we had to unload all the boxes on to the lawn to get to the furniture in the truck.  Furniture had to go in first because the boxes just filled the place up.

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Our beautiful space has been invaded…..

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But look at the treasures that we have found.  So now, 5 days later, Sunday, July 2 we still have boxes downstairs and up too.  But not as many.  I think I have gotten most of the kitchen boxes unpacked.  Now it is pictures, pictures and more pictures.  And things from my parents’ house that I should have gotten rid of before we moved to Italy.  Fortunately it is ten years older now and even more ‘vintage’.  Hello Craig’s List.

 

 

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It’s Called Ensuite

One of the things I was most excited about when remodeling our condo was that I was getting a bath tub.  Back in February I went to a local supplier to view the choices.  I really wanted to climb in a few and check them out.  But all the floor models were not secured to the floor and somewhat wobbly.  In the end I had to pick my tub online!  So I was pretty worried about my choice.  Well the big day came (the week after we had moved in) the tub arrived!

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Frank (in charge of day to day operations on site) brought it over on his truck.  With help he got it upstairs.  And of course it would not fit through my bath room door.

Several days passed.  Some ripping out of walls (washer and dryer won’t fit either) and the plumbers were back to install the tub.  Most of the day spent tweaking pipes and this and that.  I was getting excited.  And then…. lo and behold the hose of the hand shower was damaged.  Another week wait and finally this week 6/12 the tub was installed.  I had to wait for the NEW washer to be fixed (that happened this week also) because I wanted clean towels for my first bath.  And my first bath was very enjoyable.

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But I kind of liked it the bedroom too……

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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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