carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

We’re all about hydraulics and velcro here

So back in June, Ben received his new motorized wheel chair.  It is a big one.

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Here he is, being fitted, along with Dan from Stalls Medical.  The chair has all kinds of hydraulics for lift and different speeds and just about everything, including a joy stick which neither one of us can  operate.  Well, we can, but it is very sensitive and we can’t make the chair go straight.

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This cartoon was most appropriate.

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While the ramp on the deck had been built there was no landing pad at the end of it.  There was a difficult transition to make from the height of the sidewalk to the ramp.  The very skilled concrete man was able to do it.

 

We are still waiting on the curb cut in the sidewalk from the parking lot.  I thought it was just a matter of asking the city for one.  But, nooooooo.  The city could force the home owners association to upgrade the sidewalks all over the neighborhood if the association was applying for a permit to do some work.  Since they are not, the association can not be forced to do it.  I had to meet with the chairman for the grounds committee and show him what we want.  He has to wait for a bid and then the association will meet to talk about it and figure out who is going to pay for it.  So we’ll see.

We were able to arrange for an occupational therapist to come to give Ben driving lessons.  After all, when we all first learned to drive we just didn’t get behind the wheel and go.  A lot of practise was involved.  And that is what we both need.

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Out in the courtyard

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Tuckered out after his driving lesson.  No, just kidding.  This is more hydraulics.  Ben’s new lift chair.  It fully reclines and will bring him to an almost standing position.

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His new combat boots are shoes and something called ‘Moore’ braces that help with balance.

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The shoes velcro close.  Thank goodness.  Ben has worn sandals for so long because it is so difficult to get shoes on his feet.  These are so much easier.

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Our screen door is velcroed on.  See the black velcro.  Makes it easier to take off which I had to do when the chair came in.

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My French veg carton sides are velcroed on to the shelves.  On the right you can see the white velcro where one sign is missing.  I put them up before the final electrical inspection.  Our contractor saw them and said ‘they have to come down’.  Code requires 18″ from the counter to any wood surface.  So they came down for a day or two.  This missing one needs a little glue to keep its velcro on.   I used velcro to stick the norens up on the downstairs bathroom door.

Life goes on and slowly we are getting things unpacked and tucked away or given away or sold.  Thank goodness for velcro and hydraulics.  They are making my life easier.

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Noren

Noren are traditional Japanese fabric dividers, hung between rooms, on walls, in doorways, or in windows. They usually have one or more vertical slits cut from the bottom to nearly the top of the fabric, allowing for easier passage or viewing. Wikipedia

Our condo is small.  When planning the renovation, our contractor and designer Reid suggested using an outside mounted sliding door as the entrance to the bathroom downstairs rather than a door that would open out and take up more room.  I wanted a very plain one with no panels but this one came as a kit (with the hanging hardware) and was less than a plain one with separate hardware.

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Too barn door for me.  Back in February and March I had lots of time so I started looking for ways I could camouflage this barn look.  I finally decided upon noren.

This is what the door looks like now.

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Outside

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And inside the bathroom.  (something to contemplate while ‘sitting on the throne)

I had so much fun looking at norens that I decided that this one would work well to cover the entrance to Ben’s ‘office’ (also known as his cubby hole)

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I thought I was going to like the cranes the best but I think I like these guys more.

 

 

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How Does My Garden Grow?

It is doing really well, thank you.  In May, I planted 2 tomatoes and some Kentucky Wonder string beans in pots on the front porch.  The only place where we have sun.

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mid-June

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Early July.  We have gotten lots of rain.

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I plan to pick my first tomato on July 4.  Beans are just now blooming and making.  Even if I don’t get any I like the vines and the tropical look they add.  Also, out front, left over from a previous owner of the unit beside us, a forest of cannas

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There was a bare space in front of them so I used the pots that I found at a recycling center (free) to add a little color.  I have plans for this space in the fall.  These cannas need to be thinned and there are day lilies hidden in there and horrors (!!!!!)  NO DAFFODILS anywhere.    You know that I can’t have that.

The back looks good too.

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It is hard to get a good picture of it.  But that planter is one of my favorite things about our renovation project.

 

 

 

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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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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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