can't you see the sunshine….

Feathering the Nest

When I tell the story about moving back to the US from Italy, one of the things that people always realize and comment on is “Oh, I guess you had to buy a car.”  A few folks will say “Oh, and furniture too.”  I guess the others think that we moved furniture…. Well we didn’t.  And we didn’t store that much.  Fortunately, our condo is so small we don’t need much.

From our experience where we rented I knew we needed a piece of furniture that could act as counterspace in the kitchen and table space for meals.   We looked online at free-standing islands, tables with storage, just about every configuration/name we could think of.  To me most of them looked exactly like what would be seen in any American kitchen.  I just couldn’t cope.  The only one I came close to liking was at Williams and Sonoma and was custom-built.  And they custom built the price too.  Then I hoped to get some one to build one for us but gave up on that idea too.  So good old DIY was the answer.

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Capital City Lumber to the rescue.  And these really cool moulded plastic forms.


These forms allow someone to build shelves with straight cuts, no angles, no need to ‘toenail’ which can be hard if you don’t have a lot of DYI skills.  When we moved in, our friend Pat put this together for me.  As a temporary measure we used a door on top.

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When Wayne (the man who made my Murphy Bed) came over to talk about the bed I realized he was probably just the man to make the table top.  So we talked about it.  And he agreed.  When he delivered the bed, he took away the table base.  For a few weeks our door/table balanced on top of big plastic tubs and we got by.  I was very excited when Wayne returned with the table top.

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Wayne followed the measurements that I wanted.  The table is 5′ by 4′.  The counter top part, what we use most of the time is almost 3′.  He had just the hinges to mount the other part which is now a leaf that folds down.  And is down most of the time.

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Here’s what it looks like open.  We can comfortably seat 6.  8 in a pinch.  So the first weekend in November we had Pat (the clever man who put it together in the first place) and Debby over for ‘Duckappaloosa!’.   And the table worked very well.

I am ready now to declare the ground floor more or less done.  We have all the pieces of furniture that we need down here.  Pictures are hung.  The tops of two pieces of furniture are covered with things.  A few hours of focus and channeling Marie Kondo will fix that.  There are some projects that still need to be done.  They have always been on the ‘winter projects’ schedule.  I’ll get to them.  In a few weeks I’ll try to get to a before and after post.  We are very lucky that it has turned out so well.

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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.


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.


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.



Our beautiful space has been invaded…..


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.




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.


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.


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.


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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Our first real meal that I cook at 1652 will be spiral sliced ham.  Here in Italy I watch Mike and Molly reruns every night on Italian TV in English.  About once a week, the family (Vince, Joyce, Victoria, Mike and Molly) all sit down to a dinner.  And there it is, spiral sliced ham.  I miss that so much I can almost taste it.  Yellow squash, snow peas too.  I got plans….


I wrote that before we left Italy.  Even though we moved in to 1652 on 5/19, we had to wait until 6/1 until the range was hooked up to gas.  We had several false starts so I was still buying microwaveable meals each day.  It was late in the afternoon when three men working together finally got the gas connection to work, so that made my daily grocery store trip happening at 7:00 PM.  No time for a whole ham.


I think I did pretty well, ham steak, yellow squash (local) and corn.

I went outside later and when I came back in I realized that the house smelled like food.  I realized then, that we were finally home.  Thanks to every one who has helped to get us this far.


How much can you cram in a storage unit?


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All neat and tidy


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Now I can just barely get the door shut…..

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It takes a village

Way back in October when we received this


I discovered that there were three formal dinner nights during our cruise.  THREE!!! Yikes, I didn’t really have anything  to wear that would pass for formal for one night, much less THREE!  So because I didn’t have anything else to be worried about I deceided to hyper focus on what I was going to wear to three dinners two months in the future.

The weather had turned reliably chilly enough that it was time for me to put away summer clothes and drag out winter things.  I did a ‘move purge’ while doing that and had bags of clothes to donate.  Richard also had some things to donate and he agreed to come along with us to Emmaus (pronounced Emouse).  (sort of like a Goodwill).  After donating I figured I would look for a ‘dead bridesmaid dress’ or a ‘mother of the bride’ frock.

So we went on a rainy day.  I flipped through racks of clothes, cursing the tiny Italian women who are all size two.  The stereo type of curvy, full figured Italian Mommas is just that, a stereotype.  By and large, these women really are small.  Or at least the fashion conscious women who donate their clothes after a season or so of wearing.  Richard came over and started helping me look.  We found some beautiful priests’ garments which would have fit me but decided I might turn too many heads (and would have to be on very good behavior) to walk in to the QM2 dining room wearing priest vestements.   We found a beautiful Morracan caftan, lovely white fabric, beading around the neck.  I tried it on and Richard remarked that it looked like I was part of a gospel choir.  (Oh, gosh, more good behavior required)  Then he found these



Beautiful, navy blue silk, beaded pants and scarf.  AND THEY FIT!!!!!  (a little long of course, but Ida will help me hem them)  And they are designer,  Marina Rinaldi (part of Max Mara).   Folks who know me know that I really don’t care who designed it, I care about fabric, fit and price.  These fit all three categories, priced at less than $30.  And no good behavior required while wearing them.  SCORE!!!!

I was so tickled to get them.  I called my other fashion consultant, Dinah, who generously went through her closet and brought over 2 nice silk tops.


Here’s one of them.  Since we didn’t have to go looking for tops, we went looking for shoes.  A real problem.  Keep in mind, that to get to dinner I will be pushing a large man in a wheel chair there.  No futzing around in a pair of high heels.  I need good basic shoes with traction or at least a flat sole.

Good, I took Dinah along.  I would have bought the first pair of glittery bedroom slippers that I saw.  She very patiently went through the store, “no Martha”  “Really?”  No, Martha”  We settled on these, plain black neoprene, with a black sole.  I dressed them up with a bit of bling, repurposed gold earings from the ‘Chinese Dollar’ store.


So with the help of a village I have  comfortable, fashionable outfits for less than $60 that will look just fine at a formal dining table on the Queen Mary 2.




Begining to pack

Nothing like a packing post to start a new blog…..


When we moved here, almost 10 years ago, we came with 21 suitcases/bags and shipped another 41 boxes.  I am determined for this move back that we will not be shipping as many boxes.  I have already pointed out to Ben that his stereo system and speakers which would be at least 4 boxes and has already been shipped from Germany to America to Italy and was at least 20 years old might not be making the trip.  We would just buy something new and smaller.  Grudgely, he agreed.

Then we started to talk about the CDs.


We have a lot of CDs

about 150 of them.  I looked in to ways to handle them.  We could buy a hard drive and transfer them on to that.  (cost, time)  We could transfer them to the ‘cloud’.  (cost, time)  Or we could move them.  Online I found the suggestion that it is possible to get rid of the hard plastic cases.  Inexpensively!


Ladies and Gentleman!  We have a winner!!!!!  For a little over 5 Euros, at the Chinese Dollar store I bought 200 light weight protective sleeves.  And transformed…


That tall stack on the right into the short stack on the left!   Horray!  Now if I can just figure out how to do this with the china that I want to bring back…..





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