Monday, May 31, 2010

I Need A Little Help From My Friends

The movers are coming Tuesday, June 1. That's one full day/night from now. I didn't have a whole heck of a lot of time to pack up the house, between keeping the house 'staged' for showings, and having the buyers come through a few times to measure, then bring in an architect, contractor and painter. I have had 2 weeks to pack up 6 rooms + lawn and garden stuff. Myself.

I made an initial trip to Home Depot for boxes and bubble wrap. I can only fit so much in the car. I've since made 3 more trips for boxes, a cool plastic wrapper thing, and a tape dispenser. These trips for moving stuff add up, so I got lots of tape and markers at the 99 cent store.

It wasn't long before I had to step outside of the retail box, and get some major bubble wrap. Found it online at  Call customer service, rather than ordering online, because they will help demystify bubble size, perforated or non, the # of bundles, etc... Get your order in by 6pm and UPS delivers the next day. Sweeeeet!

Now THAT's bubble wrap!

I was making a teensy dent, but I wasn't able to focus on just one task or one room at a time. I'm not very good at asking for help, and that came back to bite me. I'm a very 'capable' woman, a do-it-herself-er....but at home alone, facing the deconstruction of 20 years of living..I needed HELP!

My friend Jill offered a few hours of her time, so I pointed her toward the bookcase, and she filled a bunch of boxes. Her friend Hugh helped me out by taking a sleeper sofa, club chair and ottoman off my hands---it's too oversized, and I didn't want to transport it. He and his 2 pals took out the den window and they were quicker than the Grinch working his way through Whoville!

Jill asked again and I happily accepted another offer for help! She packed all the lamps, down to the harps and finials, and all the lawn ornaments.

Jill! So bubbly!

Ok to be fair, here is a waaay better picture of Jill!

I got lifesaving calls, for 2-day packing stints. Will work for food and ice water! I was and am rocked by this showing of generosity. One call was from my friend and former housemate Kelly, who is on a short break from business school, and one was from my cousin Chris. Kelly ripped right into the bubblewrap and packed over 50 framed pieces. I am surrounded by smart, insightful women. Chris and Kelly are both extraordinarily busy women, and I am beyond grateful for their help! Check out Kelly's site,



Chris and I attacked the kitchen, and we were zooming right along. I taped and filled boxes, she wrapped. We were talking and laughing. Great team! La dee dah!

Then, I just froze. I was immobile.

I was looking at the cabinets, and it suddenly seemed so overwhelming, as if it could never possibly get done. I walked out of the kitchen and went upstairs. It hit me like a ton of bricks--tears were streaming and I just sobbed. I'm not wonder woman after all.

Moving is an emotional journey. There's a lot of history here in this house--lots of good and some not so good. I'm really ready to go. The good stuff is right around the corner, but this part is hard. Harder than I thought it would be. I went back down to Chris, and boy am I lucky to have a cousin who's a life coach with 20+ years of counseling experience. Take a peek at her street cred:  I cried a little more and Chris was a calming force. She told me that we have to look for small victories---one box and one cabinet at a time. 8 hours later, the kitchen was 95% empty--we filled nearly 30 boxes. This morning we emptied the bar (no drinking!) wrapping glasses and accoutrements. Joan my realtor pitched in, too, in between all her showings and open houses and closings. I have to say...with all their help, I am now over the hump and I'm picking up speed. The house is very close to being packed. I'll use every hour of the one day that I have left. There are odd sized pieces to wrap, and tools and garden stuff to box up. Chef Faye's coming by to raid my baking cabinet. Gotta pay it forward!

I treasure those who are close to me. My friend Sue called and knowing that I was short on time, came over from Manhattan with wonderful salads, fruit and a big cookie. We had lunch down on the waterfront, and caught up on the last few months. Having Jill, Chris, Kelly and Joan reach out to help me was a welcome surprise. I've been very guarded, private, handling things on my own. Maybe that's part of surviving solo in New York. Never met a guy who's had my back. I hope that my new life down south will coax the softer side of Dale to come out. I'm ready.

Thunderstorms are in the forecast for moving day...and there are about 100 cardboard boxes.

Not waterproof.

But let's not go there.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ten miles in 90 minutes

Today it took 90 minutes to travel 10 miles, from Long Island City to Brooklyn. By comparison, it takes 90 minutes to fly over 600 miles from NYC to Charlotte, NC.

I'm leaving for Charlotte in 2 1/2 weeks, and I'm saying so long to family, friends, former colleagues, and neighbors in small groups.

My sister Leslie visited from Long Island for the weekend, with our friend Diane.
Pajama party!

They didn't want to bring more stuff for me to instead brought wine, some vidalia onions, a neat candle holder, and a bracelet engraved "Listen to Your Soul." I was touched, they are both so thoughtful!

That's a nice pair of onions!

Saturday night we had a long, slow dinner at a new cuban steak restaurant in the neighborhood, and on Sunday we got up early for a lite bite, some coffee and we hit the bricks at 9:30 to shop "The Brooklyn Flea" in Fort Greene. I googled it to be sure of the location--on Saturdays the flea market is outside at Lafayette Ave, and on Sundays it's inside at One Hanson. Well, the website wasn't more specific than that, though it would have been helpful to know that One Hanson = the old Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower, and to have cross streets.

We walked 10 minutes over to the G train, which wasn't running. I HAD checked the MTA site, and there were NO alerts for the G. The shuttle bus was nowhere to be seen, so I waved down a cab, knocked on the window, and the guy sped off. The next cabbie had no idea where Hanson was in Fort Greene, so we had him drive us back to the house. Do over! I got directions from the website and we drove ourselves. The directions were a little sketchy. They didn't specify the address for One Hanson once we got off Flatbush Ave.  People either pointed in different directions, or said "the flea market was yesterday"  or just plain had no idea what we were talking about. One guy finally said, "It's in the old Williamsburg Savings Bank, tallest bldg, you can't miss it."  Ah, a few lefts and rights, and there is was! Stashed the car in an underground parking garage. Walking toward the building, I asked a woman, "Is this the Brooklyn Flea?" and she said, "No, in warmer weather it's over in Fort Greene." I thought, we cannot be THIS wrong!  We walked a few more feet and there was the sign, "Welcome to the Brooklyn Flea."  Sheesh.

A very l-o-n-g 90 minutes after we first left the house, we finally reached our destination, albeit in a circuitous fashion.

The lobby of the old bank is soaring and gorgeous, with wonderful stone, marble and metal work.

The vault door leads to a "food court"--dimly lit, and not too many choices. We opted for cheese paninis and bottled water. In a pinch, it hit the spot.


Leslie and Diane checking out cufflinks made from typewriter keys. Need? No. Want? Yes!

The ride home was a breeze, less than 10 minutes. A mile a minute, that's more like it! Back in LIC, we hit Cafe Henri for bowls of cafe au lait, and a sweet nibble--apple tart and a banana/chocolate crepe.

Fast visit, but lots of good girl talk, laughing, dining, and shopping. Leslie suggested I get a GPS. It's probably a very good idea ;-) 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why Did I Choose Charlotte, NC?

I've travelled to a range of cities across the US for business. I could have chosen any one of them for my 'next stop' but I would have been recreating a similar lifestyle, just changing the location. Commuting into a city for a corporate job. Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Detroit, Raleigh,  Durham, Denver, Miami, San Diego, Orlando, etc...  "Can I see myself living here?"  I liked lots of things about these towns, but the answer was never a resounding "yes."

The Carolinas kept bubbling up, as I have returned there for golf vacations over the years.  Driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway in a convertible at the peak of the Fall season was beyond beautiful. I looked at a map and decided the Piedmont area was the place for me--2 hours from the mountains, 2 hours from the beaches, and near the SC border. Not too resort-y and not too remote. I'm not ready to retire just yet. There's an international airport, the lifestyle is slower than NYC and the cost of living is lower. There's no lack of shopping, from Trader Joes to Tiffany.

I spent a week in Charlotte, NC in March and from the minute I got off the plane, the people I encountered were just plain FRIENDLIER than in other cities, especially New York!   And the weather was sunny and balmier (flowers were blooming) than the snow I left behind in NY.    

There's a beautiful statue of Queen Charlotte in the arrivals area of Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.

I stayed at the Duke Mansion in Myers Park, summer home of Doris Duke. It was a quick 20 minute trip from the airport. The grounds are lovely and a great effort was made decades ago to plant mature trees in the neighborhood.  

I looked at interesting options for housing, from a condo in this stately old building in Myers Park (great lobby, tiny apartment, up 30 steps!)
to  the rowhouses in the 4th Ward, in Uptown--at the edge of the "skyline."

I looked at new condos in old factory buildings, single family bunglaows, former mill houses, attached and detached townhomes and new construction. What will I choose?

I toured many of the neighborhoods surrounding Uptown: Dilworth, Elizabeth, Myers Park, Plaza Midwood, Cotswold, Country Club, NoDa (North Davidson), Selwyn and Sedgefield. Lots more areas to explore when I get down there for real, in early June. 

The Gallery Crawl in NoDa on the first Friday night in March was great. It was hard to find parking, which I thought was a good sign! The restaurants were packed, live music, cool galleries, lots of people out and about.


Had to do a double take--very realistic drawing, including the tape!

Loads of restaurants, bistros, sandwich and pizza shops, and an all night French bakery called Amelie's. Museums, theatre, colleges and universities, 95 golf courses, hiking, biking, kayaking, farmers markets, flea markets, plenty of stuff for me to do and places to meet new people.

I'm ready, Charlotte!


It's almost official! The sales contract for my home is signed and the closing is scheduled for June 4th. I'm excited, ready to pack, and am very much looking forward to this next chapter--moving from Long Island City, Queens NY to Charlotte, North Carolina.

I'm leaving Queens County, NY for the Queen City, Charlotte.

Queens County, NY was established in 1683 and is named for the Queen consort, Catherine of Braganza. Born in 1638, she was a Portuguese princess who married King Charles II of England.

Charlotte, North Carolina is in Mecklenburg County, named for Queen Charlotte Sophia. She was born in 1764 and hailed from Mecklenberg-Strelitz, in Northeast Germany. It's said that she introduced the Christmas tree (a German tradition) to England. She was married to Mad King George and she had 16 children, two of whom went on to become kings. Her granddaughter was Queen Victoria.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Love Note to the North Fork

There are probably over 100 towns on Long Island that I've not seen. And I call myself a native. Nesconset, Selden, Ronkonkoma. Nope. I overslept on the LIRR once and ended up in Speonk at 1am. I'd absolutely never heard of it before! I have not gone back. I guess no matter where we live, we get a bit provincial. I know all the exit #'s on the Long Island Expressway and the Northern State that get me where I need to be...but I get totally lost on Peninsula Blvd, Herricks Road, Sunrise Highway and the Southern State and Wantagh Parkways. I'm a North Shore girl and that extends to the North Fork. Nofo. You can have the Hamptons.

I headed out east to grab my kayak. I'm selling it to my realtor! My little orange boat splits it's time between Dad's place near the Peconic Bay, and here in L.I.C., at the Long Island City Community Boathouse. Til you've paddled in the East River up to the Bronx, out past Riker's Island, down to Governor's Island and back, you haven't fully experienced New York City! Crazy currents, passing ferries, towering skyline during daylight and at sunset, you feel as though you're sitting in the river, enveloped. And it's great for the arms.

Anyway, I'll save that for another blog post! I meant to write a little love note to the North Fork, as I will not be back there til Christmastime.

Rewind. I zipped out the LIE and Rt 25 East to pick up my kayak.

Rt 25, from the end of the LIE through Riverhead and beyond is very busy now, with every big box store imaginable, Tanger Outlet Mall, and chain hotels. It used to be a quaint ride. There are very few vestiges of the way things used to be. Riverhead RRRaceway's go-kart track and the Modern Snack Bar are still there, but not the field that for years had a "Pick Your Own Okra" sign.

So that I could say a proper "so long" to the Fork, I took the slow road back west to the LIE. Rt 48, or The North Road, parallels Rt 25, has fewer lights and is far less developed. I took some snaps along the 20 mile section from Southold to Riverhead to give you the flavor.
Roadside stand honor box at Ty Llwyd Farm.

$5 for 20 lbs of LI spuds. Beats Costco!


Love me some Briermere fruit pies!
North Fork kettle chips. Yum.

Wheelbarrow not included!

Houses sprouting up on potato fields. No trees. Hot sun!

90 miles West, and I'm Back in NYC...

...with an Apple Rhubarb pie to share.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Farewell Field 6

I'm not acknowledging the reality of moving away from my native New York to North Carolina just yet. It will be soon, very soon!

This suspended state prevents me from starting to pack, and I am still showing the house to vetted parties. The place is spotless and that feels a teensy bit unreal. My list of 'next steps' is ready--policies and services to be cancelled or migrated, intricacies of banking across two states, aligning the movers without putting down a deposit just yet, deciding what's coming with me for the car ride south, comparing listings by e-mail and phone with my NC realtor, etc...

What to do on this sunny first Saturday in May when there's no yard work, no appointments scheduled for the morning, and hours to pass until the Run for the Roses at 6:30pm? 

I decided to drive out to Jones Beach, 40 miles and 30 minutes away on Long Island's south shore. I don't think it's the last time I'll EVER be there, but it will be a long while, to be sure. I could spend a whole day photographing the personality of various Fields (sections of beach), the Boardwalk, West and East Bathhouses, the masses of daytrippers, the tan and leathery regulars, etc...but I just wanted to relax, breathe the salty air, hear the gulls and the surf, read a book, nap and digest my near-neighbors' snippets of conversation. "I told huh..." "YESSS I'm annoyed, they have the whole back, the whole front-a -dis beach and they plunk down on top of us! I will NOT calm down."  (Are we having fun yet?)
The "Toll Plaza"

The fee crept up from $4.00 to $8.00 in 2006.

The wooden lightposts send me back to my childhood! Many have been replaced.

We were not a beach-outing family. My father was in the Navy, but he's not a water guy. Not a shirtless, shorts-wearing kind of guy. Dad would golf or work on the house on Saturdays. Still does. Mom loved the sun. Still does. She would pack the red Coleman coolers with tuna fish sammies, plums, fruit juice, Fritos, Chips Ahoy's and Oreos. She'd load the 4 kids in her white Pontiac convertible, and head to Ransom and Stehli beaches in Bayville (North Shore/LI Sound.) There was always some discussion about whether we could bring home periwinkle snails, razor clams or some other stinky shells we'd collected. No, but rocks and empty shells were fine.

I tagged along with neighbors to "the ocean", but I think my mother took us kids to TOBAY (Town of Oyster Bay residents' beach at Jones Beach) just a few times. Probably too many blonde heads to keep track of, and big waves...when an exhausted mother just wanted to tan, read and take a nap. Imagine sleeping while your 4 children float away toward Europe...

Approaching the water tower, commonly called "The Needle"-- time to start thinking about which Field. There are 10 miles of beaches! There's an old brown sign that has the numbers of the open fields posted. You have to look fast as you drive by, but it's usually 4, 6, 10 and West End.
I took the easy way out today, Field 6. It has facilities (I prefer not to tinkle in the ocean) and the beach is more 'narrow', meaning the water is closer. Families prefer this field so they don't have to walk 1/4 mile across hot sand (Field 4) with crying babies, moody teenagers or spouses, and heavy coolers. Everything is better once the blankets are down. On one end of Field 6, there's the Boardwalk and restaurants. A faithful blog follower reminded me of the ice cream guy! I forgot about him! He'd walk for miles carrying a styrofoam cooler that was covered by a terry cloth towel. He'd save you the trip back to the concession stand, calling out "Ice Cream. Snick-iz. Frohhhzen Fruit Bahs!" He'd roll with the times, and switch his pitch to, "Ice Cream. Chipwich. Frohhhzen Fruit Bahs!" He was there even if I returned after a few YEARS. I think I heard he paid for college and bought a house for cash.

Anyway, at Field 6 I veered off to the far opposite side, so I'd be away from the stream of "Where? Here? This is good, why not here? Sal, just pick a spot!" Too early in the season for the ice cream guy.

Field 4 has both the bay side and the ocean side, and a massive, weedy concrete parking lot. All the kids scream and whoop in the connecting tunnel. It was always clammy and dark in there, with random standing water. Don't want to get that in your flip flops  ;-(   West End is "the surfer's beach" with bigger waves, and it's quieter. 
Field 5 is parking for concerts, Field 9 was closed in the 70's for erosion, Field 10 is the fishing piers. TOBAY is for Oyster Bay residents and Gilgo is for Babylon residents. $30-$40 per day if you are a non resident!

Any Long Island readers who can tell me what's at Field 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8?  Cousin Chris??
Field 6, 9:00am The calm before the throngs. And thongs.

Flounder is running.

Ubiquitous Jones Beach wastebaskets.

I scooped up some sand as I left at 1pm. Might put it in a little jar on a bookshelf in NC. I'll have lots of beaches to explore there, but will always have my memories of Meadowbrook Parkway and Jones Beach.