Monday, May 4, 2009

Living In Interesting Times

Last Monday, while on the way to Baltimore to see my new granddaughter, I made arrangements with my kitchen team to cook the scholar-in-residence dinner for 100 at the synagogue on Thursday afternoon, instead of Friday morning as we had planned. Everyone was able to accommodate me so that I could spend the weekend back in Baltimore with my family. Wednesday, I caught up with laundry, cleaned, napped, invited our friend, Faith, over for dinner to use up leftovers, and baked. Jessica told me that we would be celebrating Alex’s brother Aaron’s birthday on Friday evening. I baked, frosted, and decorated a carrot cake for him. I also made two batches of Jumbo Oatmeal, Peanut-Butter and Raisin cookies, a favorite of Alex’s family. I decided I still had energy left to try out the Sour-Cream Pound Cake recipe that I will be using for Haley’s wedding cake with the cane sugar I bought at Costco, because Erik is allergic to regular white sugar. I took out the huge bag of sugar to show to Faith and left it on the kitchen table. Then, I proceeded to make the cake and put it in the oven for half an hour before realizing that I had never opened the cane sugar. On auto-pilot, I had just reached for my canister of regular white sugar. When the realization hit, both Saul and I had a good laugh about my glitch, and his, too, because he was sitting at the table with the bag in front of him the whole time. I guess I will just have to make yet another one to try out the cane sugar.

Thursday morning, I went back to bed after cooking Saul’s oatmeal and slept while Saul finished up his last regular day of classes this semester. I went to Costco, when Stacey arrived to take care of Mom, to pick up frozen string beans for the dinner and other supplies for Stacey to spend the weekend here. I made Israeli salad to take for breakfast at Ari’s and packed up the rest of the items I had purchased to prepare the dinner. Jerry and Betty picked me up around 2 p.m. and we headed over to pick up Natalie. Then, we met Saul at Produce Junction in Glenside to pick up everything else we needed for the dinner. We arrived at the synagogue about 3:30 p.m. and set about preparing the pomegranate glaze, chicken, rice and Israeli salad that made up the Sephardic menu. We were joined by Irv and Tom, and together, we had a great time making prodigious quantities of food. We were able to finish up by 7 p.m. and spent the last 15 minutes debating about where to have dinner. In the car, on the way home, we decided at the last minute to have dinner at Jasmine in Glenside. It was a marvelous dinner in great company and the perfect antidote to the exhaustion we all were feeling. Stacey had arranged to stay over beginning on Thursday evening and had bonded with Mom very well.

Friday morning, Saul had a blood test scheduled at 9 a.m. with our doctor in Elkins Park. Since Stacey was here with Mom, I decided to accompany him and drop off some work for a client nearby. We packed most of our stuff for the weekend before leaving. When we returned, we had breakfast at home and finished packing. We were on the road at about 12:15 p.m. We had decided to go the long way over the Conowingo Dam and Route 1 to avoid the hectic drive over I-95. The more leisurely drive, which usually takes an extra half hour, took an extra hour and a half because of heavy traffic we encountered on Baltimore’s beltway, I-695. Alex was hard at work in the kitchen whipping up dinner for Yona’s first Shabbat. We had homemade and storebought challah, garlic bread from Costco, gazpacho with cilantro oil, seared tuna with avocado and horseradish sauce, glazed salmon fillet, quinoa with chestnuts and mushrooms, steamed artichokes, and steamed broccoli. For dessert, we not only had the three I had just prepared, but I also cleaned out my freezer from leftover chocolate almond bars and mocha mousse crepes from Passover. It was quite a feast! We were joined by Ari, Alex’s parents, Aaron and Stacey and their three children, and Naomi.

On Saturday morning, before services, Saul had his first encounter with a chiropractor, who was able to finally alleviate most of the pain in his right shoulder that has been keeping him up at night. Jessica had a much-needed adjustment also and was feeling better. It was my first visit to a chiropractor’s office, also, and I watched the procedures on the two of them with curiosity. Fortunately, nothing is troubling me lately. When we returned home, Ari, Jessica, Elaine, Saul, Yona and I joined Alex, Sami, Izzy, and Maury at services. Saul, Ari and I stayed with Sami at her services while the rest joined Alex as he led his special “Tot Shabbat.” We returned and had delicious leftovers for lunch. We had been planning to go out for a late dinner together, but during the afternoon, Naomi called with the disturbing news that their elderly Aunt Fran had died suddenly. The Weinberg family was converging at Jess and Alex’s to be together and discuss funeral arrangements, so Saul, Ari and I made plans to meet our friend Larry, who was on his way down to College Park for a baby-naming for other of his friends. Larry met us at Jess and Alex’s to see our new baby Yona, distribute some gifts, and we were soon on our way to his motel to drop off his car and luggage. We squeezed into Ari’s new Mercedes and headed out to Wheaton, where we had dinner together at the Hollywood East CafĂ©, one of our favorite haunts. Afterward, we dropped Larry back at his motel, continued on to Ari’s home, and went to sleep in preparation for our early morning gig at the Pearlstone Center.

Ari had agreed to take Jessica’s place registering bikers for the “Bike for Kayam Farm” fund-raiser on which she had been working for some time now. We were up on Sunday by 5:30 a.m. so that we could dress, make the one-hour drive, and be ready to work by 7:15 a.m. Pearlstone also had a yummy hot breakfast ready for us when we arrived. Unfortunately, by 8 a.m. the persistent drizzle had turned into full-scale rain. A canopy was set up to cover the registration area where some intrepid bikers had indeed shown up to register. Over 45 bikers registered and traveled the various distances on different routes of the journey. The monetary goal for the program was met. Only Ari was needed to work, so Saul and I sat in front of a wall of windows gazing out over a pastoral, if soggy, vista. Ari finished at 11 a.m. and we returned to Jess and Alex’s home to take Jess out to lunch. Jess chose a Latin-themed nearby restaurant that had an extensive breakfast buffet. The food was ample and delicious, if rather expensive. Unfortunately, Saul apparently accidentally ingested through cross-contamination, a food item to which he is highly allergic. A few hours after we arrived home, seven hours after we had eaten, he began vomiting and was up most of the night. Luckily, today he only needed to be at school to administer a final exam. He spent the rest of the day in bed.

Last Thursday afternoon, we learned that Beth and most of her division had been laid off by Toll Brothers. Beth had been planning to start her own business for some time now and has wasted no time launching it. I spent today designing a logo for her new venture, 7th Circle Engineering, LLC. By evening, it was ready, and she really liked my first attempt. We made a few modifications, and I was able to send her off with enough letterhead stationery to launch what we all hope will be a highly successful venture.

During the weekend, as happy as Mom was with Stacey, a problem developed where she suddenly became paranoid that she was being spied upon, that her checkbook had been stolen, and that her phone was bugged. Adele was away for the weekend also, so we were able to enlist Beth to put Saul on the phone to Mom to instruct her to take the pill that she needed to relax and calm her, Lorazepam. Beth sat and held her hand after that until she fell asleep. Ken checked in on her on Sunday and gave her another pill. By the time we arrived on Sunday evening, she was her usual self and extremely relieved to see us. This morning, she told me that she really missed seeing Stacey. I had given Stacey the day off. Mom’s nurse, Kathy, told me when she visited today that paranoia can be one of the symptoms of Mom’s condition.

The scholar-in-residence dinner went smoothly according to all accounts I have heard so far. Saul seems to be better this evening. Finals will be over on Thursday and what we consider to be the official start of summer vacation begins for us on Friday. It has been an interesting week, filled with very good as well as very bad times, almost as though life with all its ups and downs has been squeezed like an accordion into a very compressed state. I am trying hard to keep a sense of humor and an even keel through it all.

No comments: