carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

55 Years

Yes, that is how long Ben has been out of high school.  The first weekend in November we went to his high school reunion in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Even though the school was in Norfolk, many reunions ago, the planning committee worked out a deal with The Oceanfront Inn at Virginia Beach to hold the reunion there and there they have stayed.  Why not?  Ocean front rooms at a very good price. Indoor pool.  Good location.  Ben and I have gone to several reunions.  Arranging our trips back to the US around them.  (and The Oceanfront Inn is our stopping place when we are traveling up the east coast)

Ben’s sister, Bea, was in the class behind him.  So she enjoys coming to this reunion too.

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These events have always been a sartorial challenge for me.  Ben’s classmates are older, very well coiffed and pampered women.  And if I am asked to appear in anything but overalls or jeans I go in to a big panic.  But thanks to my good friend, Dinah, I had two very sophisticated silk tops to wear that I think were just the ticket.

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The beach looked great too.

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All in all it was a wonderful weekend.  I will just have to write, that Guppy’s 2 half day and 2 full day stay (or 3 days)  at the dog spa cost the same as our two night stay in an oceanfront room.  I knew she would cost us, but not that much.  Anyway, I think she over partied.  A day after picking her up she is still asleep.

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Guppy’s Summer Thoughts

Guest Post: By Guppy, the Lucky Dog 3

We are having a calm summer.  I have to be pretty quiet for 60 DAYS after my last heartworm treatment.  She explained that what happens is the heartworms are killed and are supposed to gradually pass out of my body as little bits.  But if I get too excited a big clump might break off and that might make my heart stop.  So even though it has been really hard I have done my best to not run around a lot.  She says we only have to wait until August 14.  Then we can start to go to the dog park and play with other dogs.

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That is the new Asian man that I had to use my allowance to buy. (Remember a month or so ago those other Asian men were bothering me when She and Ben went somewhere and left me alone with them.)   She is all mad about it because it was not what She ordered.  But it would have been okay except for the green.  She decided to live with it for a while.  And just because I am dropping a few hairs, I had to use my allowance to buy a vacuum too.  I don’t like it at all.  It makes a noise that hurts my ears a lot.  She doesn’t use it too much but when she does I try to bite it.  I’ll never get any new toys…..

For my graduation they did buy me a piece of jewelry.

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I wear it all the time.  No one had ever bought me jewelry before.  And I got

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these great bowls and a new table cloth.  She says this can be my china pattern.  The ‘Sainted Siena’ had her own china pattern but I am not allowed to use it.  It is best that I have one all my own.  I think my ‘motif’ must be fish.  What do you think?

Anyway, Ben and I have our own special time together every morning.

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Well, I think that I am having a very good summer.  Hope you are too.

 

 

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Happy Valentine’s

I just finished reading As Always, Julia. The Letters of Julia Child and Avis De Voto edited by Joan Reardon.  A collection of letters between the two women.  Avis acted as a recipe tester, researcher, cheerleader and go between Julia and her publisher for Julia’s first French Cookbook.  Besides writing about food it is interesting to note how much of their correspondence was also about politics.  And how, even taken out of context, their comments could apply today.

There are a number ‘letter’ books, some fiction some nonfiction that I have read.  All of these letters got me thinking about what will be left in the future for folks to read.  Who writes letters now?  I do.  I send about 10 a month.  Two of my friends reply with letters.  But, oh my, they are definitely not as deep and serious as the exchanges that Julia and Avis had.

Anyway, back to Valentines.  Julia and Paul Child spent a large amount of time living outside the US.  Julia wrote that they could not get organized to send Christmas cards so they started sending Valentine’s cards back to friends and family in the US.  It helped that Paul was an artist and an accomplished photographer.  Still to get this card done took a good bit of planning and organization in 1954 Germany.  Besides finding a bathtub big enough to accommodate 6′ Julia, they had to have two rubber stamps made, get enough photos printed and get them in the mail before the 14th.   I had to wonder what folks of such talents could have accomplished if they were alive with today’s resources and technology.

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Our simple little photograph only required getting Jim to wait patiently while our friend BK took a picture.

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Note my cool authentic Scottish tam that John and Richard gave me.

Happy Valentine’s from Ben and Martha

 

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Deep thoughts while unpacking

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I wondered if I had run out of boxes and staged a raid on the Post Office.  Then I remembered that Ben had a stack of these in his office in our Virginia house  (he used to mail out info about computer systems that he sold).  Fearing that he would pack these up and move them I probably ‘appropriated’ them for use  packing my Chinese fish platters.

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I unpacked boxes from places where I worked, not just in Virginia but also in North Carolina before we moved to Virginia.  Boxes, Ben had used moving back to the US from Germany even before I met him.  Boxes, used by our Virginia neighbor who moved back from SE Asia just as we were packing up to move to Italy.  Boxes used by John and Richard  (we rented from them in Italy) who had moved all over the world several times.  Boxes from Florida when I packed up my parents’ house.  Boxes Boxes Boxes.  Each one I opened, I thought about the connection it had to us.  About how far that box had traveled.  About the people that I had known.  About the times I had spent with them.  And that is just in the outside of the box.

Inside oh the treasures!  (Oh, the “why did I pack and keep this?”)  I was most excited to find

 

 

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My collection of Revere Ware pots and pans.  I was really afraid that these had been sold or given away.  I am so happy to see these again.  It is a nice set and a duplicate set which was my Mother’s.  For now I am keeping both of them but some of them might have to go.

 

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This hammered aluminum Dutch oven cooked many meals for my family as I was growing up.  Many a Sunday roast.  I can remember my mother experiencing some amount of distress if the church service ran long….”oh, the roast will be dry!”   Very happy to see this again.

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And look at this, it is Siena’s hair, snagged on a piece of furniture and packed away for almost ten years.

UPDATE 2/5/18

I wrote this back in the summer.  Super Bowl weekend I finally got around to cooking a roast in the pot that my mother used.

 

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It turned out well.  I think my parents would have enjoyed it.

There are still boxes tucked away that need to be dealt with.  I am torn between dealing with boxes or working on the projects that still need to be done.  Maybe I’ll try to do a bit of both.

 

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Catching up

I really don’t know what, if anything, I have done on our condo since I last wrote about it.  We had a very busy November and December so I took a little break from trying to get anything done.  January is January.  What can I say.  There are basketball games to watch and books to read!

My biggest push to get things done was to hang pictures.  We have a lot of things to hang.  Years and years ago (way before smart phones where everyone carries every photo they have ever taken around with them) I started taking pictures of our trips or when we got together with friends and having the good ones enlarged and printed.  I decided the best way to display them was to use plain, clear, plastic box frames.  Inexpensive, don’t add or detract from the photo and they go on sale.   And way before it was a ‘thing’ I took pictures of food.  Especially at outdoor markets.

Our condo is oriented with east and west windows through which, at various times of day, strong sunlight comes in.  Before hanging too much I wanted to observe the light patterns to avoid fading of things that will be hanging.   In October, I started on this wall outside the upstairs bedroom and bath.

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All the shelves were full of frames.  One by one the frames committed suicide by jumping off the shelf.  I use these little shelves because the holes in the back of each frame are different and I would never be able to get all the pictures straight.  I experimented with all sorts of putties and potions to help keep them attached to the wall and finally found a 3 M tape product that works.  Two weekends ago while watching basketball, I washed all the frames.  I had the tape.  Pictures in frames, all staged in rows on the bed.  Tuesday morning, the time allotted to start hanging I was all ready to start putting pictures up.  Oh no, our internet died.  My whole Tuesday morning had to be spent trying  to get that working again.  Now Ben will tell you, I can be mean as a snake when things are not going the way I planned.  Finally, I was able to get back to and finish this project.

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I am pleased with how it turned out.  It is a lot of pictures.  The uniformity of them and grouping by themes makes the display work.  Well, that is what I think.  After all of these went up, I still have 30 more.  A future post will show where they ended up.

I have also managed to finish the chandeliers for the two pendant lights over the dining table.

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These were just naked bulbs.  My parents had saved all the wooden spoons.  I found these blue and white chop sticks at one of the Asian markets.  Used a thin  piece of light colored wood veneer that I glued around a wooden embroidery hoop.  Getting the spoons and chop sticks to stay on a curved surface was the trick.  Finally, several coats of Mod-Podge did the trick.

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I am real tickled with how both of these projects turned out.  The man who rented from us most of the time we were in Italy was by the other day.  He was interested in seeing all the changes we had made.  I know the man’s taste.  He is a minimalist.   His eyes could not have been bigger.  Almost overwhelmed by all that we have in here.  But, I am pretty sure he approved of the changes we have made.

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My brother died and

no one told me.  Yeah, I was irritated and sad.

His birthday is today.  In January I decided that I would try to find an address for him and send a card and a check.  He had a caregiver/companion.  I thought he had a good arrangement with her.  In 2015 she contacted me about buying an airline ticket for Paul to join us in Italy.  I explained nicely to her that moving to another country was not the same as moving to another state.  An international move takes planning and paperwork.  Lots of paperwork.  Showing that you have income and health insurance other than Medicare.  She got into a snit and stopped communicating with me.  When we arrived in 2016 I reached out to them again.  And heard nothing.  I reached out to his former sister-in-law, the woman who arranged for this care giver.  Didn’t get far with that.  We were in a temporary place, arranging the work on our condo, getting Ben organized with doctors, health care workers and then, starting in May, moving and unpacking (unpacking continues).  And oh by the way, I already have one semi-helpless large old man to look after, do I really want another one?  But if someone had contacted me I would have made some kind of arrangements.

I found out he had died by googling his name and seeing a funeral listing in Mobile, Alabama.  That was two weeks ago.  Bit by bit I have pulled little shreds of info out of folks in Mobile.  Everyone seems reluctant to share anything, citing “PRIVACY”.  Jiminey Cricket!!!!! The man is dead!  I am his closest living relative.  I am the only one who could possibly get upset about having his PRIVACY violated!.  Each little shred of info has taken 2 or 3 emails and multiple phone calls.  But once I finally get someone to talk a bit, they can’t tell me fast enough how their business/practice  provided services at no cost……  My feeling about this, you google my last name and you will see all 30 of us.  And we all know how to get in touch with each other.  It is not like my last name is Smith or Jones.   You couldn’t bother to find me….I can’t bother to assume his debt.

This is what I know so far.  The caregiver dropped him off at a homeless shelter in Mobile.  With the help of a volunteer guardian and a court appointed conservator he was placed in a nursing home.  He died while under their care.  I have no idea if all this took place over days, months or years.  I have no idea what he died from.  I do know where he was buried in an unmarked grave.  Ben and I have used all of our disposable income for this month to place two obituary notices in the Vicksburg, MS and Louisville, KY papers.  If the state of Alabama ever sends me the death certificate I MIGHT be able to get some remaining funds to have a stone made to at least mark his grave.

So here is his obituary if you would like to read it.  (This is the long version. I cut it some to get it under $400 for the Louisville paper)

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Born on February 6, 1945 in Louisville, KY to Frank Paul and Hattie Gudgel Taccarino, Hattie liked to joke that while Frank was fighting in Europe during WWII at the Battle of the Bulge she was fighting her own battle of the bulge.  Paul graduated from Mayme S Waggener High School in Louisville in 1963.  He earned a BS from Kentucky Southern College (now part of University of Louisville) and an MS in Library Science from the University of Kentucky.  Fluent in French he studied and served at Defense Language Institute, Monterey, California as part of his military service.  After that, he was employed in Library and Information Services at the Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, MS. He retired from there and enjoyed caring for his cats and watching ALL SPORTS, but baseball was his favorite. He was predeceased by his parents, his first wife Joy O’ Connor Taccarino, his second wife Debra Allen Taccarino and many Aunts and Uncles.  He is survived by his sister Martha (Missy) Taccarino of Raleigh, NC, an Aunt, Mrs. Florence Dungan of Ocean City, NJ, an Uncle, Mr. John Gudgel of Indianapolis, IN and many cousins.  Paul died on November 18, 2017 and was buried at Pinecrest Cemetery in Mobile, AL.  The family can be reached at 1652 Sutton Dr, Raleigh, NC 27605 and requests that you remember him by donating to your local library or animal care society and watch a baseball game!

 

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