Oct 30 2022

The master bedroom

We changed to the adjustable beds instead.  They arrived on October 27 but the mattress needs two days to expand/grow.

A friend has lent us an airbed for the first few nights. These adjustable beds are relatively easy to assemble. They’re comfortable.

We can’t find a bed frame that we like. I decided to make them myself. First, are the beautiful headboards from Thailand.  Next, will be the frame, probably using pine.

Oct 30 2022

The first few days

The first few days in the community. All is new. All is fresh. A lot is to be done.

… machines large and small

garbages are pilling up

what’s for lunch?

nails on the ground – many neighbors have their car wheels and bicycle wheels punctured.

Oct 27 2022

The kitchen

At moving in, the kitchen functions well. But I don’t like the color of the backsplash tiles, and the gas range.

To replace gas, an electrician came to disconnect it on Nov 1 (HD said they won’t touch anything gas). The electrical range was installed on Nov 5. It’s puzzling that the builder offers only gas range.

The Samsung electric range looks good but the glass top is too easily scratched. I’m waiting for the induction range to arrive.

Installing the lights over the counter, Nov 26. Finally, my indoor kitchen is complete by Jan 13, 2023 with the arrival of the induction range.

Now, I’m debating if to replace the backsplash, and waiting / working on our outdoor kitchen.

Oct 27 2022

First things first

The welcoming committee, Oct 24, 2022: two long time residents greet us in the parking lot after swimming

Be prepared to torn up what you’ve or chosen and to replace it. A string of companies come and go, to repair and install.

Nearly two months after the closing on our new home, and haul our quarter of century’s baggage, we moved in on Oct 24, 2022. The mover came to unload the following morning. Immediately, we’re overwhelmed with more things to do than ever: a truly One Damn Thing After Another.

What have we re-done

  1. cooking stove: from gas range to electrical
  2. kitchen backsplash
  3. the floor
  4. the front doors
  5. re-paint the walls
  6. extend the lanai, again

What have we added

Actually, a few things were done during our absence. The first thing is to seal the garage floor, the day after the closing. The left photo below was taken immediately after the top coat was applied, and the right was three days later. We chose coconut flake with tan base color epoxy and clear protective top coat, with the wall boarder (base board). With tax (why??), it comes to $2,101.


Next, is the walk in closet, installed a couple of days later. We put up 50% deposit in May, met the designer once in July and finalized the design at end of August. They got in to the house from garage with the code, and left the house in good condition -:).

September 28, we got someone ($350) to put up/take down the storm shutters due to Hurricane Ira.

Oct 25, after the mover left, the internet guy came in the early afternoon. Yes, you guessed it: for a moment, I don’t know where the doors are and where he is – from the front or garage. He spent about an hour or two to set everything up. Setting up this appointment took some trying. While I was still in New York, the internet site kept on telling me that my area doesn’t have their service. HOW can that be when my next door neighbors have them?? One of the neighbors said, the company must have multiple database and mine must be in or near New York where they don’t have service. One of the neighbors provided me with the local number to call (which, obviously has worked) and suggested that we use their referral, which also worked: got their $100 on Jan 1, 2023. Yupeee, free money 🙂

I’ve been using FiOS for as long as Verizon offered it. However, they don’t have fiber service in Florida. My current company provide router which beats out Verizon – they charge about $199 to buy or $10 (?) per month to rent.

The shoppings ensued … erhhhhh

Once moved in, we visited the Container Store for the first time on Oct 27. I’ve seen it often in New York – next to Trader Joe’s. Never thought of going in. They offer decent products, such as the elfa units (they fit in the closet too) and InterMetro White 4-Shelf Starter Unit, that we ended up purchased five for the garage. Home Depot’s garage builder came, his estimate is $2,500 for a neat few cabinets – kind of like kitchen, which is totally not what I’ve in mind.

Looking back, comparing the small vendors/companies vs Home Depot, Closet by Design, or Lowe’s in that matter, I would go with the corp rather than mom papa small companies. Just unreliable and not much recourse.

The window lady Nancy came to measure for the plantation shutters also on Oct 27. Due to covid-19, the shipping time stretches to 12 weeks from China. She requires 50% down. The project is completed on Feb 20, 2023. Nancy comes to install herself with one staff Sam.

Oct 28, starting to visit the out door kitcheners: Soleic and American Outdoor. Both companies are very unresponsive. Finally someone came to measure on Dec 29, after we deposited 70% (on Dec 13) of the cost. When will they come to install? Who knows!! Gosh. Is this Florida’s norm, sporadic service and excessive traffic accidents on the roads??? I finally got an email from them on Tue, Jan 3: we’re on their lineup, scheduled for Jan 25. Finally done on Feb 24, 2023, and tiling begins.

Water softening system (with salt) installed on Nov 9. The water feels fine to me but everyone said that if we don’t, the appliances suffer. So we added this one. The company is very easy to work with and we liked the workmen. No fee credit payment accept after the completion – no deposit needed. Need a referral? Just ask me -:)


The wall unit in den. The acclaimed & expensive contractor came on Oct 31, and the job began Nov 15. He certainly charges a lot but the quality is so so, and unresponsive. Why didn’t I just use the closet company to do this, at the fraction of the cost?!? The two pretty boys come in with nice smell cologne but the outcome is unsatisfactory: the gaps, missing holes … The final touch up is done on March 27, 2023.

November 1st: ordered pickleball paddles and they’re delivered on the 3rd. We played with it shortly after.

The front porch screen installed on Nov 17. We started talking in April. They faded in and out, with uncomfortable long silence. Glad they eventually showed up for the gag.

The fire place was really a quickie: hammered out on Nov 17, and was installed Nov 28.


Nov 21, the mounding: a nice job. The pretty boys installed and Roger the sub contractor sent his normal looking boy to paint, finishing the job. I like Roger a lot: responsive and job is well done. We often have multiple workmen in or around the house, doing different things by different companies.

November 21: Two 4×8 ceiling shelves in the garage installed. Jeff has many nice tools. This company is easy to work with, and payment upon the completion of the job. I actually used another company that required 50% down by mailing in a check (who’s still using checks, nowadays??) On top of that, unfortunately, my check took her sweet time to travel for three weeks. I’ve enough of wait and switched to this one, which I’m so glad I did and very satisfied. Btw, my check to the first company did arrive, after the shelves are installed. Oh well. Don’t keep up with the change – Zelle could have delivered my deposit in a second – be prepared to be eliminated – swim or sink.

Nov 22: ordered the barn doors for the den, installed on March 17, 2023.

Nov 26: some lights are installed. Lighting proves to be difficult: just can’t find the lights we like! When we finally decided on the cone shaped pendant lights, their covers/canopy are too small than the openings on the ceiling – actually this is lousy workmanship on the builder part: out of three openings, two are too large for the light’s canopy size (4.72″) …just one more one damn thing after another moment. Luckily, Roger’s boy is in the house and he kindly fixed/painted the two large openings.

December 3rd, Sat: I host our first dinner, and a night chat by the fire pit!

December 5th, we’ve a piano tuner over – things are looking up as we’re more settled. The turner came again on 12.30: pretty thorough. … and we’re on the market for a new piano: why did we bring our old one over, at the cost of about $500? Too much water in my brain, must be. How much junk do people usually bring/move? I estimate that 50% stuff we hauled over are junks -:((( … Oh well. 新三年旧三年 缝缝补补又三年 (Chairman Mao’s or Mao era’s motto: 3 years new, 3 years old and three more years to mending/patching) there goes 9 years -:). The bottom line is: I don’t or can’t part with my junks. Take them all and continuously live among them, ha ha ha.

Dec 8th, have our first neighbors over for dinner

December 19th: My first piece of furniture – a console table – is completed. So following the above paragraph – I can make junks too -:))

The first area is done on December 27: the nook – oh ya!!! … Although it’s not much to be done there, but nevertheless, a done is a done. Any completion worths to celebrate. 要求不高 常快乐 嘻嘻

The lanai is the area we enjoy a lot and is relatively easy to fill. The outdoor kitchen, hopefully can be installed in mid January 2023.


The new year eve gathering to welcome 2023 – our first new year eve party

January 2, 2023: house cleaning. I’ve been talking to a couple of cleaners since August. First, they all want to come to see, before giving out their price. What to see – the entire community pretty much has the same narrow layout! “How about I send you the link to my model, there you can see the layout.” One acclaimed man charges $120 each time weekly, $140 every other week. Why the extra $20? Another cleaner charges $95 for about 2 hours and 20 minutes, which is pretty expensive for house cleaning. … Jan 17, got the cleaning lady, who’s responsive, punctual and courteous. Glad to have found her.

January 3: The first kill: found my first mosquito and yes, I nailed it.

Jan 4, Evan came to do measurement for extension of lanai.

My nth breaking of glasses that I moved from New York – this candle holder is one of my faves -:( -:(((


Jan 8, Sunday: the first wall decoration – we’ve a hanging!

This whimsical painting was by Qi Baishi (1864-1957), a Hunan native (the same province where Chairman Mao Zedong was from) who taught himself to paint and went to Peking/Beijing to seek fame and fortune around 1917, where he indeed found both and more. When he was still a starving artist, my great grandfather’s home, a rare European villa on Tangfang Hutong, was his refuge. He would spend days on end there… to repay my ancestor’s generosity, Qi gave him many of his works.

Jan 13, my induction range is delivered and installed, after a month long wait. So my indoor kitchen is done. Into our third month here, packages are still coming in in doves. Most UPS, FedEx and Amazon drivers are very neat and courteous.

Sunday, Jan 15th: having my first cup of tea – 普洱茶 puer or Pu-Erh from Xiaoguan Tea 小罐茶, on a pretty cold day, 58? ha ha ha – this is the third infusion – the second fusion was really dark, has a hue of red. … and having my first pizza down here. Because of the cold, we bring some plants and flowers in, the second time, in less than a month – we did it the first time on Xmas.


Jan 21, went to our first concert – a Beethoven no less, on the lunar new year eve, to ring in the year of the rabbits.

What’s the silliest thing you find in your home?

Jan 25: three months moving in, almost to the day, look what we have just discovered? The door knob was installed backward. Who would have noticed it?!?

Jan 27, my tricycle delivered. Gone to Anne-Sophie Mutter concert. One hundred days here have passed. The day before Chinese lantern festival, I made chai on Feb 4.

Feb 9, getting a glass insert to front door. HD associates are helpful most of the times but sometimes they can be deadly wrong. They’re the one who told me that we can use insert instead getting a new door but Pat insisted that we need storm impact front door … in fact, we don’t. So diligent research is important. I know, with mountain of things to tackle, sometime one may just get lazy and mistakes mount …

March 13, filed for the floor tiles with the warranty department: ours are just too dark! Both are Shaw’s Legacy 7″x22″ series and their color codes are from 150 to 770. We picked color 2nd lightest, 500. Both houses with 150, their colors vary slightly.

April, replace the floor

April, adding window shades

4.18, re-paint the walls

We use Cuisinart TOA-26 airfryer toaster is due to its small size: 13″D x 18″W x 15″H. Six months on, the back of the fryer has yellowed my wall. Guess the next one I buy would be free standing – not against walls.

The progression of the products we use often

Which area will be the next: the master bedroom? The living room … on and on: life is just one damn thing after another -:) that’s for sure.

Oct 23 2022

Crane Ramen

1029 Park Street
Jacksonville, FL 32204
Our first time visiting Jax.

The area: Five Points is a hip residential area on the west bank of the St. Johns River, south of Brooklyn of Jacksonville.

The street: Park Street has many restaurants/eateries, bars and shops, pretty bohemian. We initially picked Escape Restaurant (@ 1023 Park St.) to go but it’s empty when we walked in: no diners no servers, so we left.

The restaurant: Crane is a couple of doors away from Escape Restaurant and pretty lively. So it’s for us.

The decor is simple and casual. The service is good and the food is decent, especially the kimchi is surprisingly good – not sweet. The Brussels sprouts and octopus are good too. The spicy noodle is the least desirable – the soup tastes fake and thick.

Like their wine and the glass – the bar is in the back.


Oct 7 2022

Day 13 @ sea

Caviar tasting – Carelian is still my fave 

Day 13 at sea: bbq lunch on pool deck, visiting the navigational bridge tour at 3pm, and caviar tasting at 5pm.

Although cloudy but it’s warm enough to eat on the pool deck. The food they prepared is really good. Philip manned the deck wine stand. Ian spotted a small group Orcas, which was exciting for him, and many others on the deck. Carine rushed out with her cannon.

As you cruise to your next port of call, spend the day at sea savouring the ship

Oct 5 2022

Day 11, at sea

I got a little yoga in on the pool deck

Day 11: at sea, a cloudless day. Don’t we all wish that yesterday’s weather was like this?!

It feels a little tiring that many excursions have been cancelled. No one looks forward to this break: we all want some actions. Unfortunately, we will just have another full day on the ship.

3pm: kiss the fish, a silly thing but thanks to the crew for entertaining us. After kissing da fish, we’ll become the person we want to become -:)

Between the queen and the king. Exec chef Avhier Singh holds the fish –  大厨是🇿🇦的🇮🇳 小哥, 米其林二星. 卧虎藏龙的. 120 工作人员 服务不到60位乘客 


5pm wine tasting with a great sunset: Louis Jadot Beaune Premier Cru 2018, and Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Selection Farconnet 2017 are really good, both retail in the neighborhood of $70.


The dinner: slow cooked Peking/Beijing duck – great texture but too big portion and way toooo sweet. Two appetizers – eggplant and scallops – are awesome, so is the chocolate souffl

Oct 4 2022


1:53pm on 2022.10.04 by Torngat national park

Day 10: Saglek – park hiking is cancelled, unfortunately.

During the briefing yesterday, Sarah said very few people has visited the Torngat national park, all about 500 because of its remoteness.

Watching the sun rises (7:32am; set 6:59pm) from our balcony. Actually the orange light woke me up – we leave the curtain open. I made coffee ⇓

8:01am and rainbow at 9:40

The boat docked at Seglek at 12 noon. They showed the movie Secrets of the Whales (2021; trailer), produced by James Cameron, Brian Skerry photographer; narrated by Sigourney Weaver @ 9:30am. The sun never left us; and I even saw a rainbow, faintly visible.

11:34am, two serious hikers are warming up in the pool … 


… then right before lunch at 12 noon, the ship announced that the hike in the park is cancelled due to rough water. The white-capping is all over the place. Too rough to land, that’s for sure. The ship circling the park for hours.

Oh well, here is the sunset

We danced into the night, Ren

Oct 3 2022

Akpatok Island 

From our balcony, after lunch

Day 9: Akpatok Island. What a day. When I woke up, the sun was about to come out, with pink could. Then as we were about to set out, the sky became cloudy and ultimately rained. At end, an ungrateful passenger lost her phone. Afternoon’s schedule to go out on Zodiac, circling the island, looking for wild life was cancelled due to weather and rough water.

7:37am, the day started out nicely with pink clouds; … and yoga  

A happy camper, under the water fall. The first & last photo is by our ship’s photographer. 


According to the ship, very few people, even the Canadians know about Akpatok Island, due to its remoteness and uninhabited. No one lived there for more than a century, except thick-billed murres 厚嘴海鸥. The island is about 28 mile (45km) long and 14 miles (23km) wide, it’s the largest in Ungava Bay, separated from Baffin Island by Hudson Strait.

wiki. With the largest number of breeding thick-billed murres in Canada, Akpatok Island – whose name in Inuktitut means thick-billed murre – is an important birding area. More than half a million pairs make their home on the ledges of the sheer limestone cliffs, while glaucous gulls keep a beady eye out for unprotected chicks and eggs. Seals, walruses and polar bears make up the scene. The brutish act of cannibalism was practiced here as recently as 1900.

Although it was cloudy, but we enjoyed the site very much. The straight cliff, the vastness and the remoteness is just unique. And the water!! Unfortunately no one can swim there. Not even a polar plunge.

Two staffers are carrying guns, just in case polar bears show up.

Dinner: slow cooked lamb rack (interesting that the staff asked how do l like it cooked, rare, medium rare … how could that be?) Carine (?) joined us for dinner, and shared her experience, thank you!

Afternoon tea: caramel torte, eclair, banana-chocolate cup cake, egg and tuna sandwich. Their porcelain tea kittle is pretty fancy. The staff said there is also stainless steel model.

Lunch: monk fish, etc.

Oct 3 2022

An entitled bitch

The trip to Akpatok Island was great, although weather wise was terrible: rainy and windy. Worst of all, at the end when the last Zodiac was about to come to take us back, a woman said she lost her phone by the water fall, which is the far end of the beach.

What would you do, in a such remote area, with a group of people??

Apparently, she boarded the Zodiac with Liz at helm. Then she suddenly realize that she lost her phone. She got up … Liz told her to sit down for safety. She won’t have it and got off the Zodiac.

She and her two men friends or coworkers went back to look, toward the water fall, without consulting the staff. The weather has become unbearable, very windy and rain came down pretty hard, in gust, and the staff is trying to get the last zodiac out safely.

The last four of us boarded (incl. the birthday girl) with four staff got on the last zodiac. Sarah said into the intercom/walkie talkie, that our zodiac is going to the water fall to pick the guests/phone lookers up.

The last Zodiac before ours; two staff on our Zodiac, all soaking wet. 

Karin drove us out, and U back to the shore, to pick up a woman. It WAS a major struggle to get onto the shore and then leave. Sue who is 70 years old, also jumped out of the zodiac to help steady it without hesitation. The water was more of waist high. The lone woman boarded the Zodiac and showed NO sign of gratitude. NOT a single thank you. I couldn’t resist by saying, “oh thank you all so much, for working so HARD to get us out and back … just hope all of us are more cooperative and considerate.” Maybe the word considerate hurt her, when we were at basecamp, the narrow walk way, the woman walked right into me. Ok, bitch, you’re big. That much is obvious. Hope you’ve a sizable brain and decency to go with it.

I heard from others that she didn’t find her phone.