carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

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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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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What are you reading?

Growing up I always loved summer because I could read what ever I wanted and as long as I wanted.  And many is the night that I stayed awake half the night finishing a book.  The joy of doing that, but oh how awful you feel the next morning….

I know I recently posted about the two series that I am reading this summer.  To my dismay, I discovered that my library doesn’t have all of the series.  (Yes, thank you, I know how to order up books from other branches and have them sent to my branch.  I am talking about the library as a whole)  So either I need to fill in by reading some of them online or buying some (HORRORS!)  Anyway, while waiting to figure that out I decided to expand from the two series that I was reading.  So I have added The Irish Country series by Patrick Taylor and Effie Leland Wilder’s three books about aging in a retirement community.

The Irish Country series takes place after WWII (maybe the 50s) in a small Northern Irish town and centers around the new doctor in town and his settling in.  It is 15 books. That should keep me amused for a while.  I have been to Ireland, but not Northern Ireland, and I certainly understand being an outsider and small town life after living in rural Italy for 10 years.  This is not some great work of literature but an entertainment.

I have also read Amazing Place,  What North Carolina Means to Writers  (edited by Marianne Gingher) a collection of observations by North Carolina writers about how living in North Carolina has  influenced them.  From more than one writer I agreed with the idea of how important it is to write in and preserve the language of North Carolina.  And how maddening it is to read an article written by someone who does not know the area and portrays the entire state as full of hicks and rednecks.

(Which brings me off on another branch, I have made the acquaintance of a brother and sister whom I speak with regularly.  And I have a friend who would turn up her nose about me chatting with these folks because ‘they sound country!’.  (I can tell, that growing up, her Momma instilled in her using proper English and not sounding like you are from the sticks beyond.) Anyway, I delight in being back in North Carolina and having conversations like the ones I have with these folks.  And if you put aside some of the words that they use, you can hear a lot of college level vocabulary used correctly.  Even though I don’t think either one of them went to college. Conversations like these are one of the things I enjoy most about being back in the US and especially in North Carolina.  I can over hear (and 99% of the time no one cares if you join in the conversation) great stories and comments and truly appreciate all of what is said and the little nuances of the words.  Keep in mind that after 10 years in Italy I was just getting to the place where this happened.  Anyway I have digressed)

So I have come to the conclusion that what I really like about the Miss Julia series, (by Ann B Ross, the one that is helping me find my repressed, not so gentile, Southern lady) the Deborah Knott series, (by Margaret Maron) and the three books by Effie Leland Wilder is the telling of a story and the use of dialect when appropriate.

Now off on another tangent…the telling of a story, especially for comic effect.  One year when my Momma was still alive, Ben and I were driving from Virginia to Florida to see her.  From the Vienna, Virginia library we always got several books on tape to pass the time.  The Margaret Maron, Deborah Knott series was agreeable to both of us, so that is what we were listening to.  Hawthorn, the black and white dog was in the back.  (I haven’t written much about Hawthorn, a good ole boy dog, he died 11 months before we moved to Italy and before I started my blogs.)  He was a very good traveler and always went with us to Florida while Siena went to the ‘spa’ in Leesburg.  He never minded wearing a seatbelt, would happily settled himself down in the backseat.  The only time we would hear from him was when we went through the Hardees or BoJangles Drive thru.  That big paw would come forward and smack down on the console between Ben and I.  Just to remind us that he was back there and ‘oh, make sure to get me a butter biscuit.’  So we are driving down the road listening to a mystery about North Carolina and the reader was at the part where one of Judge Knott’s nephews was deer hunting and came upon a deer lying in the road.  Now he already had a deer or something in the back of his truck.  So he proceeds to put this small road kill deer in the front seat with him.  And goes on down the road.  Well, the deer wakes up!  At this point, Ben and I are laughing.  I hit the pause button.  The language, the way the scene was set up, the reader’s voice.  It was all too much.  We are laughing so hard.  Tears are coming down my face.  I rewind and we listen to it again.  Laughing away.  Well, that was just too much for Hawthorn!  HUMPFH! was the sigh from Hawthorn as he got up, gave us the death stare and then resettled himself in the back seat.  Ben and I did our ‘ohhhh, we disturbed the dog’s nap’ routine which caused a raised eyebrow from him before calm returned to the car.

All this leads to, the ability of these three women to tell a good story and lead you up to the place where you at least chuckle if not have a prolonged bout of laughter.  The best comic parts of the Miss Julia books are complicated.  You have to have read the whole book and catch all the nuances and know the Miss Julia character.  The same with Margaret Maron’s books.  A lot of Effie Leland Wilder’s three books are just entertaining but probably only to someone in my age group or older except for this one short chapter in the second book, Over What Hill?.  I will just say that it involves a constipated donkey, a French horn and an Intracoastal waterway bridge.  Recently, well after midnight I read that chapter and started laughing out loud.  Ben wanted to hear it, so I composed myself as best I could and read it aloud to him.  Now I am laughing, Ben is laughing and I am wondering what our neighbors on each side must think.  But, I know what Hawthorn would do….

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Hawthorn and I in the early 2000s.

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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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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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More walks down memory lane

My Mother hung on to a lot of things

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My Brownie and Girl Scout sash.  (I can’t believe that I have badges pinned on? Or maybe they came off of my uniform?)  If you look at the badges that I earned they do reflect my interests today.  Arts and crafts, animal care, cooking, flowers, sports, and some house that is kind of in the mountains.  Maybe someone will remember what that was for.  Travel maybe(?)  I certainly had to travel with my parents so maybe I managed to get a badge for it?  Who knows?

And of course there is this picture

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Sorry it is so dark, difficult lighting in that room.  Anyway, it is me as a six-year-old showing dismay that our library has fewer books that year than in the past.  This accompanied a newspaper article about how school libraries were no longer getting books from the Louisville public library.   And because so many new schools were opening,  books were being moved to the new schools.

So wonder why I didn’t get a badge in reading?  Reading was very much encouraged by my parents.  I can remember them each having a current book that they would read each night.  I guess at the library, my Mother picked out books for my Father.  I don’t ever remember going to our local library with him.  Thinking of that library  lead to the thought that I have always treasured summer because it meant that I had time to read and that I could read what I wanted.  I was able to ride my bike to the local library.

Anyway, I have made time this summer to read.  I could ride my bike to our local library or even walk, it is close enough.  (It is also HOT here so I have not done either yet.  Also don’t have a bike.)  I am catching up on two series that I have read through the years. Aunt Dimity, very light-hearted, set in England (here is a link  about Aunt Dimity ) and Miss Julia, also not serious literature, set in North Carolina.  (about Miss Julia)  Miss Julia is helping me to get back in touch with my Carolina/Southern strong women attitude.

From reading earlier posts you might remember that I have a very vivid imagination.  (that movie of my life that plays in my head when I first arrive in France)  I was pleased that when I started reading a Miss Julia book again the same images of the homes and the town popped up in my head.  And this is the question, when you read do you see the story and what is happening in your mind?  Is it only people who really love reading and can get lost in it that see this?  Is this something that is taught or does it just develop?

When in the library I also pick up a cook book.  Currently eating our way through Burma (Myanmar) using the book Burma Superstar  (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31084637-burma-superstar)  by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy.  Yesterday was a very tasty okra curry.  It was not quite right since I used a Spanish smoked paprika and the can of tomatoes had Italian basil in it….but what is a little blending of cultures.  So did my parents, who forced me to travel with them and gave me a love of reading, shape my everyday life years and years later.  Yes, most probably.

 

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Christmas in July

Well, we had black Friday last week….so why not Christmas in July.

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Look who I found while in a shoe repair place in Cameron Village.

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Santa, himself, in plain clothes.  He had his boots in for a quick clean up before an event next Tuesday (the 25th) at a shop in Cameron Village.

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A fine man with a great spirit who uses it to spread joy and happiness every day of the year.  It was great fun to talk with him.   See, Cameron Village has everything.

 

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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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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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