Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winner Winter Dinner

I feel so good about today that I must write about it this evening, even though I am very tired. There is enough material in the last 24 hours to fill a number of blogs, and my family complains that I am too long-winded. Nevertheless, I will try to condense everything that pleased me into a few short paragraphs before I head off to bed.

Mom had not been feeling well for the last few days and had barely gotten out of bed. This morning she was up and having breakfast with us by 9:30 a.m. She was much better and in good spirits.

The cookie evening last night made me realize that, although our family bickers and we get on each others’ nerves much of the time (like most families, I imagine), when we finally decide to cooperate on something, we are able to move mountains, as evidenced here by our joint production. Ken picked up three large delicious pizzas at Spatola’s on his way here. We all sat around the table for a while eating, socializing and reminiscing (with perhaps a little bellyaching thrown in) before we got around to the work of sorting everything out. Everyone spent some time with Mom commiserating about how she was feeling. Everyone seemed to leave with a sense of contentment and accomplishment. Cookies can do that for people sometimes.

Everything was organized and ready to transport to begin work on the new members dinner by the time Marianne, Mom’s hospice volunteer, arrived to stay with her. They seem to be developing a nice rapport and Marianne seemed genuinely pleased to be here. Saul and I took a ride over to the new Trader Joe’s that just opened nearby to get the Grade B maple syrup for the maple pecan pies I will be baking, and they had just restocked their shelves. As an inveterate foodie, I just love the ambience at Trader Joe’s. The staff is inordinately friendly. The samples, delicious.

We arrived back home just in time to meet Betty and Jerry who were volunteering to help us prepare the dinner. In the only glitch of the day, we had a misunderstanding, and while they had driven themselves to the synagogue, we were waiting for them to arrive here before leaving. This set us back an hour which, because everything else went so smoothly, did not affect our plans for the day adversely or cause us to finish up later than expected. In fact, we were able to get more done than we expected. While we were waiting for them, I decided to check my email and found a friendly letter telling me that I was a finalist for a recipe blog contest for Pom. That really floated my boat! I didn’t remember what the prize was and had to go back to their site to learn that I was in the running for a $5,000 grand prize. There was also a lovely thank you note from the executive director whose newsletter I had been working on for the last few days.

Even though a light sleet fell throughout the day, we were able to purchase all the ingredients for the marinated salad for 100 people from Produce Junction for under $20, and in just a few minutes! The restaurant where we were supposed to meet for lunch, Rizzo’s, was closed, but we had a really nice meal at a new and cozy Asian bistro, Jasmine, I spotted just around the corner. We made it back to the synagogue to begin unloading just in time to meet our other volunteers, Larry and Natalie. Despite the bad weather, everyone was in good spirits, feeling that we were preparing something wonderful and enjoying each others’ company. From my experience, this type of atmosphere enhances the taste of the food, a weird karma thing I have noticed over the years. The special crackers (Nish Nosh) I had brought back from Baltimore for the office secretary pleased her immensely.

Marianne was relieved by Janet, a fellow congregant who volunteered to help out, and who is a professional hospice nurse. Evidently, the whole day for Mom went on without any glitches as well and when we returned home, she was all smiles.

I made a large omelet for dinner and Saul began working on downloading the prepared video from Eliezar’s birthday party in Israel. Saul said it is great. I haven’t seen it yet, but perhaps it will appear here in a few days if it is a compatible size or can be compressed. I spent a long time schmoozing on the phone with both Ari and Jessica this evening. That always pleases me.

So far, I am well on my way to recreating all the good feelings of last year’s new members dinner. I hope the next few days will go as smoothly. Especially after today, I am really looking forward to them.

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