Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Weekend in Baltimore

By Wednesday afternoon, I was satisfied that my tender plants had weathered the snow and ice storm only a little worse for wear, but I wasn't taking any more chances. We called Beth at work and she told Saul she would help him move pots and trays into the house when she came home from work. After almost everything was moved in, Mom joined us and we had some of the spanakopita I had made and frozen last week for dinner along with leftover potato leek soup. I was feeling more relaxed and happy than I have in a long time. Work for my business was caught up and Mom was okay with Agnes coming to stay with her for a few days. According to Leslie at Fine Care, Agnes had really liked Mom and the situation here, and would be happy to come any time we wanted her. Ken and Randi were coming to stay on Friday evening to help her hand out Halloween candy to our neighbors, and Adele was coming to visit for a few hours on Sunday. I had time to get the house in order, catch up with laundry and clean on Wednesday.

Thursday morning, I had the time to pack not only my own stuff, but Saul's as well, so that we could leave for Washington, DC, as soon as he met Agnes at the train station after school at 1 p.m. and brought her home. At 11 a.m., I received a call from Fine Care that Agnes was already there and waiting at the train station whenever we could get over to pick her up. She had been so freaked out at missing her train and making us late the last time that she had arrived two hours ahead of schedule. I felt bad that she had to wait there for two hours, but I couldn't leave Mom alone, and Saul was in class until then. I was so organized on Thursday that I had time to sit down and write a suggested list of our food inventory and where to find everything. The ride down was extremely pleasant. Further south, the autumn colors of the foliage along I-95 were at peak because the weather had been warmer. From my experience, the fall foliage in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland is just as beautiful as in New England.

We arrived in DC just in time to meet Ari after work. We found an open parking meter right in front of his office building just down the street from the White House. We walked about two blocks to a new restaurant that Ari recommended named Founding Farmers and had a delicious dinner together. Unlike the name would seem to imply, the decor was very high-style and sophisticated, the food all prepared on the premises from fresh local ingredients (including the ginger ale), and the service almost bend-over-backwards attentive. The restrooms were state-of-the-art and, if you are into "green" things, had a hand dryer that actually gets your hands dry! You lower your hands into the gadget and while slowly raising them, the water is blown off sort of the way it is blown off your car in an automated car wash. The prices were very reasonable and Ari treated us to dinner to celebrate a well-deserved bonus. On the walk back to the car, we took movies of the unique and interactive "fountain" at the building of the International Monetary Fund.

Friday morning, after dropping Ari off at the office, Saul caught up with marking papers while I began a task about which we had talked several months ago. Ari had decided he wanted to get rid of the L-shaped IKEA desk and large computer that sat on it, but was waiting for an opportunity when we would have the SUV in DC. Most of the time, we meet in Baltimore and go back to DC in his Prius. Everything, even his office chair, had a layer of dust from lack of use. Nowadays, he is either using his iPhone or his laptop actually on his lap. So I spent the morning removing everything from his desk and cleaning. There was some other furniture leaving as well--a baker's rack that someone had left behind in the garage in San José, and some plastic lounge chairs that have weathered for too many years to get clean.

Ari was able to leave work by 2 p.m. and when we picked him up, we were able to avoid most of the horrible traffic jams we usually encounter on the way to Baltimore on Friday afternoons. We stopped for a quick and satisfying bento box sushi lunch in the new Columbia Heights shopping district near Ari's condo. The restaurant, Nori, resides in part of a refurbished, very old, movie theater called The Tivoli. We stopped at the olive bar at Whole Foods on the way over to pick up an assortment to top Alex's homemade pizzas. Ari, who dislikes dressing in costume, also purchased a knit cap there with floppy ears that looked like a puppy. Halloween fell on Shabbat eve this year, so the kids did not go out to "trick or treat," but we all had dinner in costume and gave out candy to families in the neighborhood during dinner. Alex had readied all the ingredients for sushi and we spent a few minutes when we arrived rolling our favorites, which he then sliced up and arranged on plates. He also made an outstanding roasted red pepper soup from leftovers. I hope someday he can codify this particular recipe on the blog so that it can be re-created. We had the pumpkin-face cookies for dessert with ice cream. Ari had found a rare bottle of Chinaco Tequila in a liquor store in his neighborhood and the middle generation had a good-humored round of shots with salt and lime.

I had brought with me a large plastic storage bin filled with all types and sizes of costumes that we have accumulated over the years. The kids had a great time going through the box and trying on various possibilities until they were satisfied. Each had on a least three different costumes until Alex insisted we needed to light candles and start dinner. Sami settled on a cowboy outfit that my brother and I had once worn as children, and Izzy chose a filmy ballerina costume. Saul wore a mask that Larry Shipper had brought us from Ecuador on his latest trip to the Galapagos. Alex's brother, Aaron, and his wife, Stacey joined us with their two little ones, Jacob and Lily in costume. Stacey came as Harry Potter. Jacob liked the pirate hat, and Lily was a brown pussycat. Abby and Isaac, who work with Alex, did not come in costume, but Abby tried on some costumes from the box and settled on a shiny gold 80's disco number. Jess was a black and white clown and I was a red and white polka dot clown.

After dinner, when Aaron and Stacey had gone home, the kids invited us up to Sami's room to view her art gallery. Izzy had set up a box at the door of her room to sell us tickets to the display in Sami's room down the hall. Although Sami advised us that there was to be "no flash photography," I persuaded her to let me take movies.

Our weekend "good karma" continued when, as Saul and Ari were about to load the desk into the SUV to take to Goodwill, a neighbor pulled up in a van behind them and asked what they wanted for it. He said that his niece had started college and was looking for furniture for her apartment. Instead of loading it into our SUV, they loaded it into his. Wanting to give something in return, he asked them if they were interested in tools that he had promised his girlfriend he would clear out of their space. As it turned out, he had been an IT person at Howard University and had an unbelievable assortment of tools that Saul can use with his computer classes at Chestnut Hill College. They moved plastic cases of tools from his van into ours. Then he was delighted to return after delivering the desk to take the other furniture we needed to move out as well that had been sitting on the lawn. In the midst of all these coincidences, M.J., as he signed the thank-you note he left, is Ari's next-door neighbor.

Jessica came with the two girls on Sunday morning because we thought we would catch a special arts & crafts program for children at the American Indian Museum at the Smithsonian, but as we walked out the door and were commenting on what a beautiful day we were experiencing, Sami asked if we could go to the zoo. On second thought, it was a perfect day to be outdoors at the zoo, which is very close to where Ari lives. We visited the giant pandas, and the bird house. We observed the enormous construction project that will become an elephant walk in the future. We had forgotten about daylight savings playing havoc with the girls' appetites, so after a while, we left to have mouth-watering shawarma at Max's Kosher Café in Wheaton, MD. We visited a few open houses on the way back to Ari's as he is tentatively looking for a larger place. Then, we all headed for home. Agnes and Mom had gotten along well, and Agnes asked if she could stay another night so that she would not have to wait for a train for long hours in the dark. Saul dropped her off further down the line on his way to work this morning, and I was delighted when she said she would be happy to come and stay during Thanksgiving weekend. As Saul often says, "Life is good!"

1 comment:

sabasenders said...

Just a little correction. Aaron and Stacey with the kids, went to NJ to visit with Morey and Elaine.

The water display in DC was fun. The tools were inceridible the type and quantity.

Life is good.