Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November Dawns

I am up before the break of dawn blogging. Dawn comes earlier since Saturday night when daylight savings time ended, so at least we are not usually waking to the alarm clock in pitch darkness, but only until the days become even shorter. I really dislike the short days of winter.

This week has been wonderful in many ways, but it has also had its share of aggravation. Ken did have the H1N1 virus, but he is almost completely recovered now, and is back at work. Our trip down to Baltimore and DC was delightful. As has become my habit, I ran around the house like a maniac while Saul was at school, cleaning and putting things away in case a realtor wanted to stop in with a potential buyer for our home while we were gone. At the last minute, I discovered that the heating and air conditioning people who had come for a check of the systems a week earlier, and who had discovered that the compressor on our three-year-old HVAC system was shot, had unplugged our sump pump to use the electrical outlet and had failed to plug it back in. We had especially heavy rains last week and so, the basement was flooded.

We stopped in Baltimore Thursday evening to drop off the pumpkin-face cookies, an exersaucer for Yona, and some glassware from the catering business many years ago for Jess and Alex. The girls were having pizza for dinner with Jess while Alex was at school and we had a chance to play with all of them for a little while. Ari was delayed in the office that evening, a situation that is becoming more and more common lately. After much debate about where to meet, we met at his house and set out to have dinner at Founding Farmers in downtown DC. Even at 8:30 p.m. we were told that there would be a 45 minute wait for a table. Luckily, we were able to find three seats together at the crowded, but sociably buzzing, bar in front of the World Series Game. Unfortunately, we watched our Phillies lose that night. We were able to assuage our considerable hunger immediately with house-made potato chips and crackers with an assortment of dips—green goddess, smoky cheddar, and sour cream; and excellent fried green tomatoes. Saul and I each had a chocolate beer that was on draught that must have had the highest alcohol content ever. We both were totally buzzed before even finishing the one glass. It was delicious, but also bitter, not what you would expect when hearing chocolate-flavored beer. In due time, we moved to a table to order dinner, which was very mediocre and disappointing considering the wonderful meal we had the last time we visited.

On Friday, we relaxed around the house while Ari was at work, sleeping late, playing with the laptops, and getting his laundry caught up. Our Shabbat dinner on Friday night was adults only. Jessica had given the girls dinner earlier so that they could attend a family service at the synagogue. We arrived in Baltimore and began to put dinner on the table as they were returning at about 8:30 p.m. Alex had made sangria, lentil soup, sushi, seared tuna, baked tilapia, and a huge salad with fresh figs and mozzarella. The challah was supplemented with a delicious olive bread. We were joined by Alex’s assistant, Abby, and Paige, a friend who was in town this past weekend. Abby’s fiancĂ©, Isaac, was at a conference.

On Saturday night, we traveled again to Baltimore and went trick-or-treating with the girls in Pikesville at the end of Shabbat, to just a few neighbors down their street. Because the neighborhood is so traditionally Jewish, the holiday is scarcely observed there. The girls are in a public school, though, so it would be impossible to avoid the festivities of the season. The weather was rainy, so we walked with large umbrellas. Yona was very happy dressed as a Philadelphia Phillie in a backpack on Jessica’s back under the umbrella, and fell asleep there just as we arrived back home with the girls’ stash of candy.

On Sunday morning, Ari went to the office again while Saul changed his balky shower head, and then we dressed, cleaned up the condo and packed our things into the car. We were supposed to meet at lunch time for dim sum at China Garden in an office building near Ari’s office in Arlington. When we pulled into the underground parking lot, the barrier bar was broken, and no one was there to fix it. A line of cars backed up behind us, and we wasted a half hour while various people came to try to fix the machine. Eventually, we ran out of time to eat because we were meeting Jess and the girls at the Egyptian theater at Arundel Mills Mall to see Where the Wild Things Are together. We arranged for all the traffic behind us to back up in order to finally get out of there and had just enough time to make the one hour drive to the movie theater. Where the Wild Things Are was enjoyable, but we were a bit disappointed because of the rave reviews we had all seen of the movie. It was also very slow in parts. Max should have gone back home earlier! Afterward, Saul shopped for Crocs and bought a pair in the Croc Store. The girls got some new jibbetz for theirs, and we proceeded to a very enjoyable Mexican-style dinner at Chevy’s before heading for home.

Last night, we met our friends Susan and Paul for dinner at Cheesecake Factory in Willow Grove Mall. They are traveling the world these days. They just came back from Russia last month and are leaving for Dublin on Wednesday. When they return, they will be leaving immediately for Paris and Barcelona. We only get to see each other a few times a year, so we had a lot of catching up to do. Paul, since he retired, is writing beautiful poetry and performing it at local venues, and is doing glass and metal art. Susan is doing supervisory teaching part-time and continues to paint. Our dinner was exceptionally good, but our conversation was hampered by the intrusive noise levels in the room. We finished with coffee, cappuccino, and complimentary pumpkin pecan and tuxedo (dark and white chocolate) cheesecake topped with huge mounds of whipped cream, thanks to a coupon promotion card that we received last month. We all left more than sated. Ari called to let us know he was getting on the plane to Chicago for the next two days for a special two-day training session for work. As we were getting to bed, he called to say that his plane had landed safely.

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