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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Just a teaser

We have been in our condo for 4 weeks now.  Still have not moved everything out of storage so I am not ready (or have the time) for a complete post about all that has been done so this is a tease.  Things that I like and think really work.

 

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Kitchen cabinets.  See that cool hardware

 

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I really wanted these fancy Asian looking pulls.  Somehow $20 or $30 a drawer seemed like too much.  I found these pulls at a big box store for under $2 each and had black rubber washers installed outside to add a little bit of definition.

I picked the cabinets online (that means I didn’t see them before I bought them) so I am really pleased that they turned out so well.  And this was the first time I have ever picked out kitchen cabinets.

 

Ben’s bathroom is the biggest success.

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It may look like a showroom for a handicapped bar sales room but they all turned out to be in the right place.  Now that the glass by the shower

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has been installed Ben is able to shower all by himself again.  Hooray!

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The table I found on Craig’s List along with two chairs.  I found the base (a fire pit stand) in a trash pile.  It is just right to support a few pots of flowers.

Busy summer still ahead of us.

 

 

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Moving along

Now that the inspections are done, work is moving along at a rapid pace.

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Kitchen cabinets being delivered

Saturday, 4/22 there was a stack of sheetrock.  Sunday, 4/23 the sheetrock was up!  So last week they finished sheetrocking and installed the kitchen cabinets.

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This week the tile was laid which includes the floors.  Today 5/5, the carpenter is installing Ben’s bathroom vanity and trim.  Painting starts next week.  That leaves lights and appliances.  It will be close but we have to be out of our temporary place by 5/20.  So no time to fool around.

What won’t be done is my bathroom, the vanity is on back order and I don’t want to pick another one.  The stove will be in place but probably not hooked up to the gas.  It might take the gas company until June to get to it.  Wayyyyy back in 2016 I was told by someone from the home owners’ group that there was no gas in the building.  And since I was in Italy and had no way to check and no reason to doubt this person I planned for an electric stove.  Then in early April I discovered that the condos on either side of me had gas, so why couldn’t I have it?   Fortunately, this was before insulation or walls went in.  So the gas line was installed which meant more inspections and caused a bit of delay.  And we had to get on the gas company’s schedule. Who knew it took five to six weeks to set a gas meter?   And we went over budget because a gas stove costs more than an electric one.

We are also still waiting on Ben’s motorized wheel chair.  (That is a whole other post)  which means we are waiting to see where a curb cut needs to be cut in the sidewalk.  And waiting to buy a vehicle to accommodate the wheel chair.  In our current ‘big ride’ the power window on the driver’s side has stopped working.  Our friend, Cathy helped me get it up and so far it has stayed.  And the air conditioner is working, thank goodness, so I am not going to worry about that right now.

All this is to say that I’ll be really busy for a few weeks so maybe no posts for a while.  But I’ll be back.  I am sure there will be lots of fun happenings during the move.

 

 

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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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Condo Work

How is it progressing?  Well it has gone from this

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to this

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Actually it is more ripped out than this now.  Most of the side walls and the ceiling are gone now too.  The plumber has roughed in for the new fixtures as has the electrician.  The deck is done.

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The deck, ramp and  planter (big box at far left)

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The planter, almost 6′ long and 2′ wide.  Last week I was out there happily filling it with drainage rock when the electrician walked out and reminded me that he needed to run wiring through there and it would need to be inspected, so maybe I didn’t want to fill it up with rocks and soil just yet.  So I stopped.  But waiting is not a bad thing.   There are two big trees back there that still need to leaf out.  I need to see how much sun I will have.  I don’t think a lot.    Plant searching has started.

I am also waiting to see if I can stain a ‘rug’ on the deck.  I need permission from the home owners association.  We’ll see.

Anyway, 2 months from today (3/15) we should be ready to move in.  Who wants to come help us move, yet again?

 

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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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Work has started

A number of years ago, Ben and I spent a week in a small house in a very small village, in the south of France.  One day I put laundry out to dry and we left.  A wind storm developed while we were gone and when we came back we discovered that laundry was all over the place.  I had to go through several yards to reclaim my ‘knickers’ (as my friend Jules would say) and ended up in the yard of the manor house.  The husband of the woman who had inherited it all was there and we started chatting.  He was  Scottish, and had worked for BP all over the world.  Very interesting man.  Then he started talking about when they first got the place and started trying to clean and update it.  “I couldn’t believe the electrical box.  Wires coming out it from every where.  We started pulling wires.  Lights started going off in that little  house (pointing just outside the wall)  and then that one and then that one.”  Turns out that most of the village  was getting their electricity through his meter.  Ben and I snickered over that for the rest of the trip.

So this morning I was over to see how work was  going on our condo.  The electrician called me to show me this

 

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This is where my bathtub was.  The other side of the wall is a room owned by my neighbor.  Evidently this plug has been wired in to my electrical source for 30 some years.  I laughed and thought of that Scottish Frenchman.

Anyway, work started last week.  Just ripping out so far.  So this has become

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this.  Wow huh?  I guess I need to get busy and finish picking tile, cabinets and things.

Ben and I were both sick last week.  The whole week.  We are feeling better and got out today.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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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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