Monday, March 23, 2009

The Lamb is Back!

Although today doesn’t feel as much like a spring day as yesterday, (the temperature was 29°F. this morning), we are, at least date-wise, in the “lamb” part of March. The crocuses have emerged, the trees and lilac bushes are in full bud, and several inches of daffodil shoots are already visible along with little clusters of primrose leaves surrounding my gazebo. Even if we still might have a blizzard, real spring weather is just around the corner, and that makes me very happy. We all have weathered another winter.

Long hours of my time were taken up by my work last week, but both projects went to the printer simultaneously on Wednesday, and so I am free to concentrate on preparing for a family brunch to celebrate my mother’s 87th birthday on Sunday and preparing for Passover, which begins on Wednesday evening, April 8. I am especially proud of my design for a full-color annual report this year, and just found out that last year’s annual report won a state award that is being presented on March 31.

Surprisingly, much good karma has arisen from my decision to stay at home this year rather than to travel to Baltimore to celebrate Passover with my children and grandchildren. Friends and relatives who read my last blog post came forth immediately with offerings of cooking help, still-in-the-box cookware items and dishes, and a willingness to share the seder evenings with us. We felt good about providing an opportunity for some who would be going through lonely times. My Mom, who is too ill to make the trip down to Baltimore, was greatly relieved to hear that she would be surrounded by loved ones this year at Passover, rather than be relegated to the care of a hired, live-in aide. My friend, Faith, was delighted when I offered to cater her meals as well. Another fortunate outcome is that I will have the opportunity, once again, to create the traditional dishes we have enjoyed over many seders and photograph them in detail for my recipe blog. We have a zillion photos of gorgeous table settings with friends and relatives around the table for all the years of seders, but none were taken of the food itself. This year is probably a last chance for me to make a visual record of the preparations that I have so carefully committed to a written record. My son-in-law, Alex, is a truly exceptional cook, but eschews the traditional dishes in favor of a more spontaneous and imaginative style of cooking that varies from year to year and is difficult to codify into written recipes.

One additional benefit to which I am really looking forward is cooking with my granddaughters, daughter, son, sister, cousin, and husband in the kitchen. Jessica and Ari are coming to visit with the girls the weekend before the seders when the kashering of the kitchen and the bulk of the cooking will take place. I have never looked forward to the pandemonium of too many cooks in the kitchen with such relish. Many times, the preparation process was fraught with tension. I intend to kick back and have an especially good time socializing in the kitchen this year. Alex, who prefers having the kitchen to himself, was just as delighted to be able to concentrate on his own preparations during that weekend. So… much good came out of acquiring the new puppy, Inky, who is as adorable as any puppy could possibly be.

On Friday, when Saul is off from teaching, we went up to the attic to see if we still had a Pesachdic Cuisinart. We did not. While we were poking around, I asked Saul to help me get out a framed pastel portrait of my friend, Roxy, which I sketched when we were in high school, and which hung in my old house for many years. We had spoken about it recently, and I plan to give it to her. While we were straightening up that area to get to the portrait, I ran across the empty box from the old scanner that sits on my desk and that has not been used for over a year because it is incompatible with my new computer. I asked Saul to help me to get it off of my desk and to pack it back in its original box. In order to do that, he had to disconnect a bunch of wires. Once he had disconnected all the wires, we decided to move my old computer to another room. Once we moved that computer to another room, I decided to clean up and put away all the extraneous stuff that has been sitting on my desk for a few years. In order to do that, I had to clean up the office closet. I would probably still be cleaning and moving other things around had it not been for the fact that I was forced to stop by the lateness of the afternoon hour and the fact that I needed to put Shabbat dinner on the table.

Only Larry joined us for Shabbat dinner this week. Jamie had mentioned a few weeks ago that she might join us, so I prepared a meal she would have liked. She was unable to come, but that was okay, because we all enjoyed it, too. We had the last full loaf of homemade challah left in the freezer, chestnut soup, guacamole and chips, salmon burgers, homemade macaroni and cheese, and desserts leftover in the freezer, which included date bread which we sliced and spread with cream cheese, and the last tray of assorted cookies leftover from our family cookie night. You may notice the word leftover used repeatedly. The whole thrust of meal preparation for the weeks leading up to Passover is to use up any food that has been hanging around for a while to be able to clean more easily and to make room for the special foods of Passover.

Adele came on Saturday morning so that we could go to synagogue services this week. We were treated to a delightful Bat Mitzvah followed by a lovely luncheon. Afterwards, we enjoyed a long Shabbat nap. Saturday evening, Saul caught up with computer work and I blogged until 1 a.m.

Our friend, Larry, had apprised us that IKEA was having a special sale on Sunday and their featured item was a large, lidded pot for only $10. I had arranged for Adele to stay with Mom in the morning, and our friend, Elaine, to stay with her in the afternoon, while we went to IKEA, the Shop Rite in Northeast Philadelphia that specializes in kosher and Passover food items, and Simon’s Kosher Meat Market to pick up our large order of meat. Yesterday began really well. When we arrived at IKEA, we were told that they were offering a free breakfast in their cafeteria. The large, airy, dining room was bustling with cheerful, efficient staff and appreciative customers. When I borrowed the salt and pepper shakers from the man at the table next to us, he expressed the sentiment that it was a shame that General Motors couldn’t learn from IKEA’s example. The pot was a great buy, and we purchased other inexpensive items I knew we would need, such as glass baking dishes, large stainless steel mixing bowls, candle tapers, and colanders, to mention a few.

When we arrived at Shop Rite, two parking spaces were available and Saul chose the one with the cart return on one side, saying that we could only get hit on one side that way. As it turned out, we were called to the courtesy counter by their P.A. system to inform us that our S.U.V. had indeed been hit on one side while we were shopping. An old woman with her son had waited frantically to apologize and give us her information. Saul went out with them to view the damage while I checked out our two-cart order. The damage was only some scrapes, so he told her he would let her know what the body shop had to say, tried to reassure her a bit because she looked as though she might have a heart attack she was so worried, and we got on our way to the butcher. After loading up a large cooler with our meat order and packing it into our S.U.V., we were dismayed to find that our battery had died. We called AAA and waited about half-an-hour for them to arrive and give us a jump-start. The verdict was that the vehicle is 5 years old and so is the battery—shelf life expired! And we just finished paying it off last month :0(.

Our evening was rescued by a picnic on our deck with Beth, who just returned on the previous evening from her trip to Honduras, and her friend Paul, who helped her stain her deck yesterday. They assisted us in cleaning up yet more leftovers. Beth was able to get Mom to eat a whole dish of Ben and Jerry’s Cinnamon Buns Ice Cream. Ari had an unexpected trip to Austin, Texas, on business for one night and day, and enjoyed his 4-hour, first-class flights immensely. I am happy to see that he is doing what he had always wanted to do as a child, and that was to dress in a suit, carry important information, solve problems that no one else could figure out, and travel around the world first-class.

Roxy has been keeping me informed about George’s “scientific” efforts to keep the squirrels off the bird feeder. I have been encouraging her to detail the specifics in a guest blog post. It appears that both sides have met their match. George has not been able to give up his persistent attempts, and neither have the squirrels. I say, “Let the match continue!” May we all have the persistence to keep striving to reach our heart’s desire even though we may fail in our attempts many times.

1 comment:

Ari said...

You've got to be joking about the Ikea/GM thing, right? This has been a running joke for a while now...

Check out:

A whole debate has been sparked by the following website, which no one is sure yet if it is a joke/fake or not: