Friday, July 5, 2013


Even though it has passed into new hands it will be called the Choi house for many years to come.  I still called my neighbors house the old Carpenter's place years after she sold and moved.   And they will recall the gardener who could be seen almost daily in the garden and the three youngsters who grew up , married and moved away.

We were young and ambitious when we bought the neglected American Foursquare and started the long process of removing the atrocies that had been done to her :  dropped acoustical tiled ceilings, tattered wallpaper, layers of linoleum and asphalt siding.   The garden, too, had been neglected and was filled with weeds and overgrown shrubs.  There was only one full bath for the large, boxy 4000 square foot house.

 During our four and a half decades our house was home to many people.  My husband's mother, whom he had not seen since arriving in America from Korea  15 years prior,  was the first resident, followed by brothers and sisters and their children.  At one time we had a dozen guests.  We housed them for a year or so until they got on their own feet.

The house has been witness to both joy and sorrow -births, marriages, and death.  The house also went through a transformation as we uncovered century-old oak flooring, 11 foot plastered ceilings , and  original cedar siding . We updated the interior with more bathrooms, central air and heating, new kitchen,  a finished lower level and loft.

When our street was in danger of being taken over by greedy developers buying old homes and tearing them down the neighbors formed a committee and had it declared a city landmark.  I was so proud to be a part of preserving our historic homes and neighborhood for generations to come.

The garden was developed and went through many changes as the children grew and left home.  After 30 years I quit my day job and dove headfirst into my two passions -landscaping and art, which I am pleased to say was successful.

Then along came a series of events that upset my apple cart.  I had no intentions or desire to leave my home but the birth of my first grandchild changed that.   When my daughter moved to North Carolina for her job it was the incentive I needed to downsize and move back to my beloved South .  I didn't want to miss being a part of my only grandchild's life.

After four months on the market  my house sold.  It is slowly sinking in and I'm now going through the process of looking for a new home here .

Getting used to life in the South again after a long absence has been an adjustment.  I've been reading NEW TIMES IN THE OLD SOUTH or Why Scarlett's in Therapy and Tara's Going Condo.  This is not the South of my youth nor do I expect it to be.  Because of the University of North Carolina its like a little UN here in Chapel Hill which is a good thing  in many ways .

 Getting used to being callled  'Miz Carolyn ' , people that you don't know striking up a conversation with you , the Southern drawl so lyrical to my ears and yes, grits and BBQ.   Someday soon I want to visit the city of my Irish ancestors - Charlotte .   I want to go to the church they attended in the 1700's  which is still there and visit the old cemetery where many pioneers were buried.

A new beginning in the land my ancestors settled after their long journey to America.   A new home and garden.  My third sweet home -sweet home Alabama, sweet home Chicago and now sweet home Carolina.
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