carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

Another food post

I don’t write as many of those as I used to, do I?  ‘Toto, I guess we aren’t in Italy anymore.’  We don’t get out that much and American food is just not that special.  A few weeks ago we did meet Jim and BK in Creedmoor for Mexican food.  ( click here if you want to see their site)  El Corral.  It was, as always, excellent.  I’m sorry that I didn’t take a picture.  When we used to come back for visits we always tried our best to stop by here since the food is good.  And it still is.

Anyway, we are still trying to find our pizza of choice.

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The box on the right is a brand that we used to get at the Esselunga in Italy.  The contents are on the left of the board.  I have to dress it up for Ben by adding more ham and cheese.  The box to the left and the pizza to the right of the board is Harris-Teeter’s brand.  It would have been excellent except for the American tendency to gild the lily and take dishes one step too far!  The zesty sauce!  What is wrong with good, simple ingredients?  Good cheese.  Good tomato sauce. Simple crust.  No need for some overly garlicy/basil sauce.  None of the take out that we have tried is acceptable.  The hunt continues.

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My tomatoes are just about finished but the green beans have started to come in.  Last night there were enough to make an Asian style dish, Gingered Pork with Green Beans and Carrots.   It was very tasty.

We are still shopping at the Harris-Teeter.  Ground has not even been broken on the Wegmans yet.  Every now  and then I venture into Trader Joes.  Now that we have a car that is not an oven on wheels we might try to get up to the Lidl in Wake Forest more often.  Our friends Jim and BK like Sprouts.  We have still not been to it, although Ben is keen to go.  (Ben is keen to go many places but he is not the one who has to load and unload his wheel chair and all his paraphernalia.  Our trips have to be tied into other errands or appointments)

I did catch on that I can order deli items online and then just pick them up at the Harris-Teeter without standing in line.  And I make our grocery list online too.  If I had a whoop de doo phone I could just have it on my phone.  Still old school, I print it out.

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I also find that while shopping I need to remind myself that the Harris-Teeter is only a few blocks and that I don’t need to over buy.  I have found that we are throwing away more food (spoiled) than I would like.  No exciting food here.  And I know we are very lucky to be in this position to be able to whine about boring food….

 

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Are we finished moving yet?

Almost!  I know!  We moved two weeks before Memorial Day and now here it is past Labor Day and I am still whining about moving.

It was not a simple move.  Yes, we managed to get all the boxes in one place, completely filling our guest room.  And I have worked at least 4 days out of every 7, every week,  on emptying boxes.  Part of the problem is that our recycling is only picked up every other week.  So any boxes that I emptied had to be stored inside until the magic once every 14 days pick-up day.  I did figure out that I could load the boxes in the car/oven and drive them to a local park and recycle them there.  And in 90+ degree weather I did that several times.  And keep in mind, Ben is not able to help.  And Ben has to keep EVERYTHING that his daughters and grand daughter ever touched and sent to him.  And the envelopes that it was mailed in.   And lastly, ten years ago, when we packed all this up, at least 40% of it was things that moved from my parents house three years earlier that I had yet to unpack and do anything with.  So it has been difficult.

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There are boxes of glassware.  I considered selling it to the outfit called Replacements which is based about two hours away.  The problem was they would only take certain pieces of the set, not all of it.  And they were not offering that much money.  So I just boxed it all back up and paid someone to move it up to the attic.  In 30 years maybe it will be worth more.

And there are the pictures,

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I unpacked them all and piled them on the bed and then started hanging.  Went through 50 hangers.  Almost through another 20 and that doesn’t count the things hung with regular nails and these

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lightweight plastic frames that are balanced on very thin shelves.  A whole wall of them. I need to go through the boxes of photographs to figure which ones to fill these frames with.

Our friend Debby came over and helped with the hanging.

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Our friend Jim came and drilled holes so I could run wires through a cabinet.  Otherwise I have done all of it, working in short bursts, stopping to make yet another meal.  And truly no one can or should be going through my parents’ belongings but me.  It is a very difficult.  Some times I felt like I just moved things from one side of the room to the other.  Some times I just stand there frozen trying to decide what to do with things.

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What do I do with things like this?  There are three of these.  Paintings done by a German prisoner of war.  (My father taught/worked in a prisoner of war camp towards  the end of WWII.)  My father liked them.  They hung in my child hood home and their home.  These must have been important to him.  So what do I do with them?  There is just no wall space to hang them.

This has been the hardest part of the months and months of this moving adventure.

But I have forged ahead and hung pictures,

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I am still working on this wall.  We are missing pictures.  I know that our storage shed was broken in to several times.  I can’t believe that it was a box of pictures that was stolen.

The sun that comes in the windows to the left both upstairs and downstairs is very strong.  I fear it could fade any photos.  So, yes indeed….

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pictures of my relatives are hanging in my closet.  Ben’s relatives are in his ‘cubby’ under the stairs and out of the sunlight too.   And just a note, if you ever come to visit, absolutely no comments about ‘that picture is crooked!’ ‘That picture should be 1/2 inch over to the left.’ unless you are prepared to climb up on a ladder and fix it!

This week, we lucked out and found this piece at ReStore (the outlet that is connected to Habitat for Humanity).

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I told Ben I was just going to run in and have a quick scratch around.  As soon as I went in, I could hear it calling my name.  I really like the sort retro 60s Asian vibe.  I measured.  Came home, measured, measured more, mentally moved pieces.  Thought about it over night and finally figured out how to make it work so I went back to get it.  (One of the disadvantages to owning a vehicle that furniture can easily fit in to.  Just too easy to buy something and get it home.)  I am real tickled that it was still available and that it has worked out so well.  The two side parts have glass doors with a glass shelf inside giving a good bit of storage.  They are lighted too.  I covered the glass with black fabric since what I have stored in there is not so pretty.  The center part had already had the back cut out so that we could put all the TV stuff in there.  OUT OF SIGHT!  HURRAY!  And the “Watch Birds” are finally settled in.  To the left side, facing the door.

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We are still waiting on my bed and our table.  And I need to find some piece of furniture to give me a small non-kitchen work area and store tools.  But slowly, slowly we are getting there.  The boxes are all open and stored or gone.  I hope it will be a long, long long time before I see any boxes again.

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We bought a car

Finally!  In mid-August.  It took us FOREVER and tried every one of my last nerves.

You might remember the car we bought from Jim and BK in late January.

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“The Big Car”  a 1998 Lincoln Town Car.  For our purposes, at the time, it was a fine car.  Ran well.  Ben’s fold-up wheel chair fit easily in the back.  Large trunk that I could use for storage.  Good car…. until the driver’s side window stopped going up and down.  And then in early July the AC stopped working and then in the period of 10 short days the motors on all the other windows broke so they stopped going up and down.  Ben’s trips away from home became very restricted.  It is one thing to subject myself to riding around in an oven on wheels but something else to subject Ben to it.  (I feared being arrested for elder abuse.)  For a few weeks my trips were very short or made late in the afternoon or on cloudy days.  Even then, wherever I arrived, it appeared that I had just stepped out of a shower.  Almost totally soaked in sweat.

Several months ago, we started looking for a new vehicle when Ben’s whoop dee doo wheel chair arrived.  Most folks buy what is known as a ‘conversion van’.  This is a passenger van that has  been altered.   Seats removed, bottom lowered or roof raised to accommodate the height of a wheel chair with a person sitting in it.  New conversion vans start at $45,000.  Used conversion vans… well you might find one.  “How about this nice one, a 2007 with only 75,000 miles and it is only $30, 000.”  Yeah, right!  We were suffering from serious sticker shock.

Because I was very focused on getting us unpacked I had let Ben handle looking for choices.  He gave his name and email address to car dealers!  Oh nooo!  I would be asleep and wake up hearing him committing us to driving 30 miles away to visit a car dealer.  And what we would be driving in?  Yes, the oven on wheels.  In 90+ degrees of heat and 80% humidity.  I had to put a stop to that.

Finally, we found a ramp system, called Roll- A- Ramp.   click here if you want to see their site

This started a whole round of measuring the inside spaces and door openings of vans.  Silly me, I thought we should be able to find specs like that online.  Not really.  So visits to car dealers along with a tape measure were called for.  Traveling there in the mobile oven.  Keep in mind, we lived in Italy for 10 years.  Thinking that foreigners would be a problem, at a car dealership in Italy, no one really wanted to sell us a car.  The two cars that we bought were from a dealer ship where we were friends with the owners’ son.  No high pressured sales tactics were used.  It was ” Ah Marta, how much you gotta spend? I show you what we have.”   Here, whoa.  They were at the oven door before I even got Ben out.  And the questions.  With some amount of shame I have to confess that I lost my cool. (My cool had left me even before we had left the parking lot at home.)  JUST GET THE KEYS! OPEN THE DOOR! LET ME MEASURE AND TAKE PICTURES!  And then of course Ben would want to see.  And oh the questions he would ask.  Frayed, frayed, frayed last nerves.  It was torture.

And then there was the ramp installers.  Three choices, one nearby, two about two hours away.  Took weeks,  Really WEEKS! to get in touch with them.  Because Ben has questions.  One is off fishing.  One is on a ‘mission trip.’ One doesn’t bother to return calls.  And then there is the installer of the ‘tie down’ systems.  Just as hard to get in touch with them.  Be prepared to hear this story in great detail if you make the mistake of saying something like “well in Italy/France everyone goes on vacation at the same time.  The whole place just shuts down.”  That is true.  But you know when it is going to happen and you know that the whole family will be away and you can plan.  Here, dealing with small family run businesses, it is crap shoot about who will be working and when.   Not just in a concentrated few weeks of August, it has been the whole summer.

So after considering possibilities, costs and thinking about it, we realized that while it would be nice to have a van that Ben could ride into in his motorized chair we just could not afford that.  So we picked a Ford Transit Connect.  It is a small van.  Many workmen use it.  Fits well in tight spaces.  Handles well.  We will be having a  ramp installed in the back which will come right out on to the sidewalk or parking lot.  Ben will still have to walk from the back of the condo to the front parking lot and get in and out of the passenger seat, then get in the motorized chair  (after I get it out) when we arrive somewhere.  Honestly, when he is no longer capable of doing that the chances are very high that I will no longer be able to manage taking care of him.

Ben’s very diligent search finds a brand new 2016 van.  It had been hiding on the lot.  We got a great price but they only want to give us $100 for the ‘big car’.  What an insult!  Why there is enough room to bake 10 pizzas inside that car if it was parked in full sun shine!  Really!  A good pizza oven would cost more than that and this one was mobile!  I list it on Craig’s List and sell it for $700.  Probably could have gotten more but I wanted it to go to a good home.

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So, this is the new car.  It is cute as a button.  His name has not yet revealed itself to me.  (Long time friends remember Sven) It is such a pleasure to ride around in.  Now we are working on getting the ramp and tie downs installed.  Maybe, just maybe, we can get that all done and take a little trip before winter arrives.

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The Big Event

Well, we were all agog here over the eclipse.  Even though it was only 93% here it was pretty cool.  We went up to our library to see it.  If you registered  in advance they offered the hard to get eclipse glasses.

DSCF3003 (4)  You needed a whoopdee doo filter on your camera to get a photo or the fiberglass awning of our local library.  I was amused that using my actual camera, rather than my PHONE, I was able to take a picture.  All those folks with phones only were out of luck even using the awning.

 

It really did look like a yellow crescent moon in a bright blue sky.  At the full 93% it was a little darker but only like it was cloudy not total darkness.  The weather folks on TV say that the temperature did drop as well as production at a local solar farm

The shadows that were filtered through the trees were just as cool.

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Pretty cool day.  One that I am glad I was able to experience.

 

 

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Summer has arrived

Written July 20, 2017

 

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Finally, a peach sandwich.  One of my absolute favs.  One thing that I missed so much in Italy.  Yes, Michael, Italy has peaches but a strange variety that was never juicy and flavourful.  And we rarely visited the US in the summer so I don’t think I have had one of these for ten years or so.  I make cinnamon toast, then slice the peach on it, sprinkle some more cinnamon on and ohhhhh, Heaven right here in Carolina!   One of the things I was most excited about coming back for.  It’s the small stuff that makes life worth living for.

 

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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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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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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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