carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

Tour D’ Coop

This year I finally got to go to Tour D’ Coop.  A tour of chicken coops in Raleigh.  A fund raising event for Urban Ministries of Wake County.  Wow, what could be better?  Seeing chickens and giving to a charity.

I have known about this for a number of years.  I didn’t get to go last year because it was on the last day of our move and I had to clean up where we had been staying and I was exhausted!  So I was really looking forward to today.  Turned out to be a really nice event.

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Since I didn’t get started at the crack of dawn I concentrated on the coops in downtown and what is now known as mid-town (North Hills if you have lived here a long time).  Two areas of town that I have previously lived in.  It was kind of fun to poke around in my old neighborhoods.

Generally, folks who keep chickens are interested in where their food comes from, so they also have nice gardens.  And some unique art and a quirky thing or two.

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This was interesting, a solar chandelier in the chicken coop.

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What a good use for a golf bag caddy.  (There are a lot of clever folks out there)

I liked the folks who took the time to put up info about each chicken

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All the coops were well built and maintained.  The most interesting to me was the one at an office building.

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This structure was built on to the courtyard area of the office building.  I talked with a staff member of the practice.  The doctor’s wife did not want chickens at their home so they ended up at the office.  The staff member said that they can be seen from several offices.  Staff members come out for their break or lunch with the chickens.  What an employee benefit!

I had never seen this before.

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Suspend a whole cabbage or head of lettuce and watch your chicken jump to get it.

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A last thought….

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We’ve been DOGGED!

Introducing Guppy

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She came to us from  Saving Grace in early May.  We don’t know too much about her past.  She likes to remain mysterious and really does not like to have her picture taken.

It has been two years this month since Nerone died.  Ben and I had been talking about getting another dog.  The expense was one thing that was slowing us down.  But we were gifted with a small amount of money so that helped to cover her adoption costs.

I started looking a few months back for a ‘rescue’ dog.  Always the best kind.  There are a number of organizations here in Raleigh that handle adoptions.  Lots of paperwork to fill out for each of them.  References!  One wanted vet records for any dog we had owned in the past ten years.  I tactfully explained to the lady what it is like to pay for, pack and physically move (yourself) from the other side of the pond.  How, perhaps, I had not moved Nerone’s records which were in Italian….. Still she persisted.  ‘I’ll just call the vet.’ she said.  I pointed out that many Italian businesses did not use the internet the way Americans do and that there was only one person at the vet in Italy that had some command of the English language.  That wasn’t enough.  Finally, I listed the last vet we had here in Raleigh in the 1990s, the vet we had in Virginia until we moved to Italy and gave her a link to my blog, most particularly Nerone’s guest posts on my blog.  Something in that group must have worked.  We were approved.  By that time, we were 4th in line for the dog I picked out.   So no go there.

I had the idea to get a smaller dog.  Sort of a Jack Russel type (like Eddie on Frazier).  Didn’t bother to discuss this with Ben.  I’m looking at sites.  Most dogs seem to be Chihuahua types, Beagle types or Lab types.  No in between.  No mid-size.  No dogs with long fur!  Finally one appeared on the Saving Grace site that was a terrier type with some fur, not too big.  So with much appointment making Ben and I went out to see him.  He (the dog) could have cared less.  We were disappointed.  So the volunteers brought out some other smaller dogs, lap dog types.  One sat in Ben’s lap.  I walked it around.  Ben made a face.  “There’s hair on me.”  Ohhh, clearly Ben doesn’t want a small dog.  Who knew.  It is really busy there and volunteers have figured out that we really don’t have our act together.  So we leave.  Agreeing to keep looking at the web site.  As soon as I saw Guppy on the site I was emailing away.

When a dog comes to a rescue, they see a vet and have the appropriate ‘operation’ to stop producing more rescues.  We saw Guppy two days after her ‘operation’ and she came home with us that day.  She is very polite, well-mannered, curious, loving and is gradually trusting us more and more.  We are all going to dog school to polish up our behaviours.

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So, we have all agreed not to worry about the past and focus on our bright future together.

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Getting Excited

I was being checked in at the doctor today.  I had overheard the conversation the receptionist had with the patient before me so I just had to continue it.  The Royal Wedding….. Yes, we are all agog here in the US about it.

The receptionist is driving from North Carolina to West Virginia to share the day with her daughter and grand daughter.  They have hats and all kinds of things to celebrate.  I have only my mugs from Kate and William’s wedding. (thanks Margaret and Howard).  I believe they will add an authentic touch.  (At 4 in the AM all the authentic touches I can find are good)  The rest of my menu is still in flux.  But I guess that I need to figure that out soon.  I had briefly considered having someone over but then realized that I would be forced to play hostess and might regret those duties so it will just be Ben and me.

I have been having a several month (starting in February)  quandary over what TV station to watch it on.  I really would like to watch it on BBC.  We don’t have cable.  I spent a lot of time exploring ways to get BBC.  Not really any.  I was hoping that PBS would be rebroadcasting the BBC feed.  Corresponded with PBS.  They were exceedingly vague.  In March there was a column in the paper about how to watch the basketball games without cable.  I decided to contact the columnist.  She had not considered the wedding as  a column topic but certainly would.  To watch the games we had gotten a subscription to Sling TV.  BBC America.  I contacted them.  They had no idea what was going to happen.

It gets closer and closer.  Promos are telling me that all the US stations will be covering it in great detail.  But I still want to see it on BBC.  Finally I catch something online that PBS is going to be showing it.  So I start poking around the local PBS station to find it.  It takes several emails to find out that here in North Carolina it is going to be shown on PBS Explorer.  No matter, even if I give them money I still can’t get the station.  Finally we are watching something on Sling (CNN maybe) and there is a promo for BBC America.  Indeed they will have full coverage.  With specials all day long, starting on Tuesday beforehand.  And as their promo says “The Only Proper Way to Watch the Wedding”

As we were talking about it, Ben pointed out that this was almost as good as ACC basketball week.  I think it is too.

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Good Eating

I will admit that I miss food in Italy.  Everytime I consider going to Lidl (grocery store) I remember that in Italy, we would plan our Lidl trip to include a stop at the edge of the parking lot for lunch at the seafood store.  Gosh, we miss their fried calamari.  I miss a nice piece of grilled meat.  I miss good, thin pizza.  I miss eating lunch at Menchetti.  I miss the clean, simple seasonal food of Tuscany.  So every now and then,  I break down and make something Italian.  And if I am going to cook that much we should have folks over.

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Italian antipasta on Chinese fish china

 

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After antipasta we had an asparagus risotto, followed by braciole

What are known as braciole in the United States are called involtini in Italy.[2][3][4] Involtini can be thin slices of beef, pork, or chicken rolled with a filling of grated cheese (usually Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano), sometimes egg to give consistency and some combination of additional ingredients such as bread crumbs, other cheeses, minced prosciuttoham or Italian sausagemushroomsonionsgarlicspinachpinoli (pine nuts), etc. Involtini (diminutive form of involti) means “little bundles”. Each involtino is held together by a wooden toothpick, and the dish is usually served (in various sauces: red, white, etc.) as a second course. When cooked in tomato sauce, the sauce itself is used to toss the pasta for the first course, giving a consistent taste to the whole meal

(Thanks Wikipedia)

and sausages and salad.  Finishing with olive oil cake and strawberries.  Since we had a risotto I saw no need for a pasta.  Anyway, my picture taking stopped after getting the antipasta ready.  Our friends, Debby and Pat and Jim and BK came.  I was pleased that the table worked well for 6 people.  We could even have managed 8 around it, but I don’t have 8 plates.

Anyway, all of that combined with a few left overs satisfied my Italian food desires for a while.  Although I am considering getting a small grill to use this summer.  I do miss a properly grilled steak.

 

 

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The Artist’s Dilemna

I am finally getting to do the ‘fun’ projects.  A little behind the schedule that I had set, but slowly getting there.  It is hard to find time to do anything when I have to make three meals a day, make sure Ben is dressed and has everything he needs, keep the place reasonably clean, keep up with appointments, order drugs, and oh yeah, the mess caused by my brother’s death.  The nursing home, which insists they do everything perfectly, used some made-up middle initial for his name.  I am working on getting that fixed so that I can start to file paperwork with the government organizations that need to know.  The ones that think I should be filing his taxes.  Yeah, right, that’s going to happen.

Anyway, all this delay gave me time to consider things.  I have been working on my bath room.  I hung pictures.  I repurposed a piece of furniture to hold all the bottles of detergent.  (I blame Harris-Teeter for having 6 bottles of laundry soap.  I mean when it is buy 2 get 3 free…. am I supposed to turn that down?)  I put up a shelf for towels.  And that left the cherry blossoms that I wanted to paint on the wall.

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This was my inspiration.  Then I got bogged down on buying paint.  I am totally spoiled by living in Cameron Village where most everything you need is available.  Except a variety of craft supplies.  I consider it a ‘hike’ to drive out to the suburbs to go to a big box store with a variety of paints.  So I finally got around to buying some paint.

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All ready to start.  I decided to sketch the branches in using water color pencil.

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Then I started coloring them in a bit.

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and decided that I have much more control with pencils than if I was using paint.

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So now I am trying to decide if I want to finish the fleshing out the drawing all the way or leave it with that sort of  unfinished sketch book look.

I have also been considering the space behind the glass over the stove.

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My plan has always been to do reverse glass painting on that piece of glass.  But the more I look at it, the more I think it might actually be too much.  There is already a lot going on in a very small space.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll leave it plain.  SHUTTER!!!!

And I’m thinking about the steps.

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Three of them were replaced and need to be finished.  My plan is to paint a faux runner.  So far I can’t settle on a design.

Oh, the woes and problems that I have.

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Basketball, Basketball, Basketball

How I love watching ACC basketball….  We spend several week nights watching.  A big part of Saturday and then again on Sunday.

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And sometimes the games overlap so that I have to watch one on TV and one on my laptop.

Actually one of the best things about moving back to the US.  Now I am wondering if I will ever be able to see an ACC basketball game in virtual reality?

 

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Happy Lunar New Year

I try to honor Ben’s Asian heritage as much as I honor my Italian background.  Usually we celebrate with a large Asian meal, but for some unknown reason, this year, I am stuck in the comfort food roasts and stews mode.  I’ll be over that soon and we will have a belated big Asian feast.  Until then, I know it is the year of the dog, however, here is our Chinese dragon head to send you best wishes.

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I can’t resist telling the story about how I got the dragon head…. when we were in Hong Kong in February/March of 1996 with Jim and BK I bought it at the local version of K-Mart.  (Great store, can’t remember the name but I could probably walk there if I was in Hong Kong )  Now keep in mind this was 1996 before airlines got so nasty about bringing things on planes.  Our suitcases were full with china and other treasures.  The dragon head was in a box, roughly 2 feet square.  Weighed less than 1 pound.  I was carrying it on.  It is only paper mache and could be easily crushed.  I really did not want to check it.  Well!  You would have thought I was bringing on live snakes!  Such a fuss!  The box was a little too big for the overhead bins.  What to do?  What to do…. finally an accommodating member of the crew found a place for it in the first class closet and it made it safely back to the US.  It did not travel with us to Italy but has been in storage.  Now I am happy that it is out and hanging, guarding our back door and spinning around freely when the heat or air comes on.

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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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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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Oh Marie,

Regular readers might remember last winter when we first arrived in the US, I went to a thrift shop in Ocean City, NJ and bought a few second hand books to amuse my self with until I could get to my favorite Wake County Public library, Cameron Village.  One of the books I bought was written by the clean up expert, Marie Kondo.    And you might remember that I have written about My Ben and his NEED to keep every thing.  I mean EVERY THING!

So I opened a tote this week and there were the books I had bought in OCNJ.  Some I have read, like Marie Kondo’s book and some I have not read.  I made two stacks, resolving that I have to finish the unread ones before I can get more books from any of the series that I am reading.  And since we just really don’t have room for stacks of books, the completed books need to find a new home.

My Ben and I have been going to a City of Raleigh ‘Active Adults’ center for an exercise class and a music therapy class.  In the lobby of the center is a basket of books that folks bring in to give away.  So I decided to drop off our books.  Today, we arrived for our class.   I got Ben in his wheel chair, put the books in his lap, wheeled him in and went back out to move the car.  Coming back in, Ben immediately says in what passes for his hurt/indignant/angry voice, “Why didn’t you let me see this book?” gesturing with the Marie Kondo book.  I took a step back, fearing that the Gods of Order, Disorder or Irony, any or all of them, might shoot down a bolt of lightning.   It really took a good bit of self control not to fall over laughing or lash out with some sarcasm.  I just smiled and said if you want to keep it that’s fine and removed the other books to the basket as quickly as I could.

So now Marie Kondo has made it back in to our condo.  Beside Ben’s chair where his library book has been sitting for several weeks now.  I’ll give her a few more weeks and then try to slip her out again.  She is just going to have to do her part and fall open to a page that says “PASS ME ALONG TO SOMEONE ELSE!”

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