Sunday, February 1, 2009

Facebook, Friends and Forgotten Blueberries

I love alliteration and this just popped into my head as a title for today. I read somewhere recently that the love of alliteration is a purely American silly phenomenon. I wonder if my little old man in China that I imagine reads this could answer if that is really true?

I opened a Facebook account last week. I had been avoiding opening one for a while for several reasons. One is that several months ago, Saul, in passing, informed me that he had set up one for me when he set up his own, along with photos. His intentions were good, but I think he still doesn’t understand why that absolutely freaked me out. I was so freaked out that he immediately removed it. Another reason was that I figured, with these blogs that I write, that not only is all the superficial stuff that usually goes into Facebook on display here, but also a lot of what goes on inside my head. I didn’t want another form of communication to keep distracting me. Lately though, I had begun feeling as though I was being “left out of the loop” because information about almost everyone I know was obviously being passed back and forth and I was only learning it secondhand—like being without a telephone years ago, or living without a cell phone now. So I now have yet another reason to become glued to this monitor.

On Thursday, when I last wrote, I was expecting 18 people for dinner Friday evening. On Friday afternoon, Jamie called, having learned that dinner had grown into a rather large gathering. She was concerned because she had pleaded with her doctor to be able to get his blessing to bring Presley here so soon to meet her great-grandmother. Jamie was worried that exposure to so many of us, including children who may have picked up a bug in school or daycare, would compromise her new baby. She was able to tactfully communicate with her cousin to let her know that she would prefer to see people in smaller groups. Erica and Adele were already scheduled to visit her at home next weekend on their way down to Baltimore for Izzy’s fifth birthday party. So I think that everybody is cool with everybody, and I only had 12 for dinner on Friday night.

When I set up my Facebook account, I learned that Ed, Beth’s ex-husband wasn’t feeling well while in Syracuse working on his parents’ house. I was concerned and mentioned it to Beth, who thought that probably it was not a cold as Ed believed, but a reaction to dealing with a lot of dust. I was also worried about compromising Mom’s health considering the weakened state she is in. As it turned out, Ed was here for dinner on Friday night only very briefly. He had to leave early to pick up someone at Kennedy Airport in New York, a long ride for him. I hope it truly was just dust for his sake as well and that he is feeling better. He had been so anxious to visit us and see Jamie’s new baby.

The dinner turned out absolutely wonderful, better than I had hoped. Marianne came and stayed with Mom early in the morning. We were in and out of the doctor’s office to remove Saul’s cast in record time. The stores that we stopped into afterwards to pick up groceries (Trader Joe’s, Costco, Assi Market, and Redner’s) were all very uncrowded. Jamie had requested chestnut soup when I asked her if there was anything special she wanted me to prepare for dinner. The peeled chestnuts happened to be on sale half-price at Assi Market. For Shabbat dinner this week, we had challah, homemade guacamole with tortilla chips, Manchego cheese with membrillo, chestnut soup, caesar salad (Randi came early and mixed up the dressing), macaroni and cheese, cod lamaize, kohlrabi coleslaw, fresh homemade lemon-limeade, and Presley Bella Angelfood Cake with French-press coffee. Adele had made the cake for her bridge group with the icing and had brought me a piece. The icing is so unusual and amazing, that I will be updating the recipe to include it. I may be using it on a few other cakes as well! Our guests were Presley, Jamie, Andy, Ken, Randi, Beth, Ed, Larry, and Faith.

Mom rallied in ways that none of us believed possible any more. She took herself into the bathroom with her walker and put on lipstick, and rouge. She also managed to get herself to the kitchen with her walker, although her strength gave out after that and we wheeled her into place with her wheelchair. She was animated at the table and had a whole bowl of soup, some of the lamaize, a few noodles, and a small piece of cake. She was awake for a few hours.

Presley really seems to be an angel baby. When I first held her after Jamie had nursed her back in Mom’s room, she gave me a big smile just as Randi was about to snap our picture. They say that babies don’t truly smile until they are at least 8 weeks old, but don’t believe it. Presley is only two weeks old and the photo above of us is a real smile that happened just at the right moment to be recorded by Randi’s camera. I know that my kids smiled before 8 weeks also.

Yesterday, I had arranged with Adele to stay with Mom so that we could go to synagogue and on to visit Saul’s Mom at Lion’s Gate now that his cast is off. There was a small, but very warm crowd at services. Saul was given the honor of an aliyah. Rabbi Addison asked me if I would agree to shop for the fruit items needed for Tu B’Shevat next weekend, and I agreed to take care of it for the congregation, even though we will be in Baltimore. The Torah portion this week was Bo, which includes the accounts of the plagues visited on ancient Egypt which led to the Exodus. Rabbi Addison spoke brilliantly, as usual, about the nature of the ninth plague, darkness. The description of this plague speaks of the darkness as lasting three days, that it was so dark that the Egyptians could not even see each other in their dwellings, but that the Israelites had light in their dwellings. This mysterious darkness is not as easily understood as a swarm of locusts, frogs, boils, or cattle disease, to mention a few of the ten. It has been variously postulated as being a sandstorm, fallout from the mega-eruption at Santorini, depression and despair felt by Egyptians after having suffered the previous eight plagues, etc. I have always gone with the depression metaphor because the Egyptians were not even able to effectively light candles against the darkness. To me, it is the metaphor of the darkness of depression robbing one of the will to act in any way to dispel the darkness. It would explain why the Israelites had light in their homes, while the Egyptians did not.

Rabbi Addison posed a further explanation. That the same event can have opposite effects on people depending on their level of attunement. Think of it as being blinded by the light. People who are accustomed to living and working in environments where there is a lot of light, hardly notice when the light becomes even brighter. A person who is kept in darkness for long periods of time is blinded by the same level of light. The Egyptians were not attuned to the plight of their fellow human beings. They were blind to the suffering being caused by their enslavement of other people for the sake of their own individual comfort. Through Moses, God’s laws, and perhaps necessity, the Israelites had developed a community sensitive to each other’s needs and with a common purpose. They were attuned to the light. The metaphor here is that the Egyptians were in darkness because of their society’s inability to teach them to reach out to each other in kindness. Rabbi also indicated that, contrary to what one would think, Moses was not instructed by God to reach his arms up to bring darkness down from the heavens, but to reach out to bring about the plague of darkness. All these subtle details and interpretations are fascinating to me.

Larry was sitting next to us at services, and asked us if we wanted company on our visit to Lion’s Gate to visit Saul’s mom. We had a pleasant afternoon together. Larry offered to drive because of Saul’s arm and we decided to go in our vehicle. Shortly after we pulled out of the parking lot, I remembered that I had forgotten to put out a beautiful tray of blueberries that I had bought for dessert the previous evening. Blueberries are my brother’s favorite, and I noticed on Facebook that Beth really loves them as well. Oh well, I did have good intentions to serve a healthy alternative dessert, but everyone did love the cake, and Jamie jumped at the chance to take the leftovers home.

Saul’s mom was delighted to see us and seemed improved from the last time we visited. She is unmistakably happy with her situation. She brought out all the art projects she has been making, including the beautiful seder plate in the photos. She recorded a birthday message for Izzy and did not even have to be prompted to remember to leave a message for Sami as well. She asked us all the usual questions remembering that Jess is pregnant, that my mom has been ill, and that Ari is in DC and still not married. I promised her we would try to bring the girls over to visit very soon.

When we arrived back home, Adele told us that Mom had been good most of the day as well. She had gotten herself to the kitchen with her walker and had some breakfast. She was comfortable and talkative most of the day. I had an hour-long conversation with Aunt Ruth, Mom’s sister, who is planning to visit today. Then, I had an almost two-hour-long conversation with Jessica. Her cervix has dilated a bit more and her doctors are not happy. As with her pregnancy with Izzy, they are strongly recommending bed rest for at least part of the week, even though she may have had the same condition with Sami, who was late, and definitely had it with Izzy, who was born on time. Jess was able to make arrangements to work from home three days a week, but I know that she was dreading the possibility of being “sentenced” to bed rest again with this pregnancy.

We spent a lot of time discussing the arrangements for Izzy’s party, which has a winter snow theme, and the photography on my food blog. All the rest of my photos have been rejected by Foodgawker, so we discussed setting up a staging area where lighting, tripod, and camera have all been tweaked properly to give me the requisite clarity. I guess at some point I will have to prepare (and eat) all those recipes again. How sad! :-P

1 comment:

baenigma said...

Good thing you got that Facebook account or you'd never know my food preferences! *lol*