Saturday, December 5, 2009

December Dawns

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After our five-day Thanksgiving vacation, both of us were extremely tired and a bit let down that we did not have the chance to do very much with the girls. The drive from DC to Baltimore is best done at off hours when the traffic is light, or else it sometimes takes as long to travel from DC to Baltimore as it does to travel from Philadelphia to Baltimore. We resolved to return the following weekend, and so we did. I began writing this from Ari’s dining room table.

Saul had long meetings at CHC in the afternoons this past week. We still have not become accustomed to the shortened daylight hours. We arise before dawn, and by the time Saul arrives home, it is almost dark. One morning, after running his power down on the iPhone, the wake-up alarm failed to go off. Luckily, I awoke just in time for Saul to throw on some clothes and make it to school only five minutes late for his first class. In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, it rained so hard and was so windy that many trees came down causing detours that made the commute even more difficult.

Adele came over with a carload of clothes and shoes for the Salvation Army on Wednesday morning and she joined Roxy and me for a spur-of-the-moment lunch at Wegman’s, which was a very pleasant diversion. I should have taken the clothes myself to the thrift store, but decided to wait for Saul. By the time we set out together, the roads were slick with heavy rain and it was hard to see in the dark. Traffic was bumper-to-bumper the whole route because of several accidents. The Salvation Army store was closed when we arrived and we returned home disgusted with ourselves that we had not called first to make sure the store was open.

Probably because the house is up for sale, my appliances have begun to fail. My modular Dacor cooktop, which I love to pieces, developed a short in one of the elements and the repairman came on Thursday morning and got it working, but needed to order a part to finish the job. While he was here, he took a look at my 17-year-old Sub Zero refrigerator and made some suggestions for spiffing it up before it bites the dust as well. When Saul arrived after school, again we set out with my carload of Adele’s clothing, this time in daylight and with nicer weather. Unfortunately, we then discovered a sign on the window saying that the facility shut down on November 28, and was preparing to reopen in a new location on December 5. Feeling really stupid, we adjourned to a new restaurant on Rt. 309 for a late lunch/early dinner so that we could regroup and decide where to take our load of clothing next. The restaurant, which replaced a Bennigan’s, is named Gimaro. Before setting out, we had previously purchased a $25 coupon for $4.00 on and had an amazing meal there for very little money, the one smart thing we did in that 48-hour period. After a few phone calls during lunch, we discovered that the PEAK Center had moved their warehouse into the old Atlantic Book Warehouse just a mile from our home and we were very happy to deposit our carload there after lunch. Finally, we headed over to the AMC Theater in King of Prussia to take advantage of a free movie ticket that was about to expire. We saw The Fantastic Mr. Fox at Jessica’s recommendation that it was “adorable.” She had taken the girls to see it the previous weekend and they liked it very much. Suffice it to say that we were very happy that we had not spent a lot of money to see it.

After preparing the house for display on Friday, we packed and left for Baltimore, intending to pick up Sami from a Chanukah party at the Waldorf School. She will be starting school there on January 4, and the class invited her to participate. Alex and Jess mixed up the time she was supposed to be picked up and Jess wound up retrieving her instead. While Saul caught up with schoolwork on the computer, Jess and I took Yona to the pediatrician for her flu shots and to check up on the previous week’s ear infection. There is still some fluid in one of her ears, but she is otherwise great. The plan was to have an adult’s only dinner for Shabbat. Jess gave the girls dinner early. Then, Saul and I took them to Gifford’s for ice cream. The tiny shop was filled with almost two dozen mostly rowdy, loud children and some of their parents, so we could not wait to leave. We luckily happened upon a nearby Barnes & Noble where we spent a quiet hour reading to the girls before attending a beautiful family service run by Alex at Chizuk Amuno. The girls went home with friends for a sleepover at their house after that, and we returned to finish putting dinner on the table.

Ari drove up from DC on Friday evening and we were joined by Alex’s assistants, Abby and Isaac, who are engaged to be married this coming year. Ari made cosmopolitans before dinner. Alex had fried up the most delicious shnitzel which we ate with quinoa with chestnuts, carrots and mushrooms; chicken noodle soup with turkey-shaped noodles; steamed cauliflower; falafel; leftover cranberry apple chutney, kohlrabi coleslaw; and spinach salad with candied pecans and avocado, among other things. Jess had bought chocolate and cinnamon babka, and had defrosted pareve chocolate mousse crepes. We took the chocolate babka home to Ari’s house because none of us had any room left for it and Alex is allergic to chocolate.

Over the weekend, we had dim sum at China Garden in Rosslyn and briefly stopped into Ari’s office nearby so that he could help out a co-worker. The short drive down Rock Creek Parkway in the snow was so beautiful it made me happy to be alive and in-the-moment. We spent some time wandering around the mall at Pentagon City where we viewed some beautiful hand-embroidered “paintings” of incredible delicacy made by families in Suzhou, China, at an art gallery. Then we picked up some odds and ends for Ari at Target in Columbia Heights. He spent the evening with old friends who were visiting in DC while we watched Bride Wars on television. Because of the bad weather, again we had not spent as much time with the girls as we would have liked. I decided to put Jessica’s zip code in and see what restaurants within five miles had coupons. We narrowed it to three and Jessica chose a place she had been wanting to try called Café Hon. Then, with travel karma intact, and like the story of Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! by Dr. Seuss, we “ran right into a circus [Christmas] parade.”

Jessica explained that Baltimore is known for a particular type of character—the type of woman who wears large beehive hairdos, flashy glasses, leopard prints, and who calls everyone “hon,” (short for honey). The café was an homage to all that with a two-story high pink flamingo out front and fake-leopard-skin lined booths. The decor was straight out of the 1950s. The food and service were wonderful, and the girls, including Yona in her high chair, behaved like angels. A group of women dressed as “hons” who had participated in the parade came in and we took Sami’s photo with the woman who had won this year’s contest for the best “hon.” Sami and Izzy, having had no background in the fads and fashions of the 1950s, asked about a million questions about the weirdness of it all, trying to get a handle on what they were observing. I don’t think they really succeeded. In the end, the café did not let us use our coupon, but we were so pleased with the whole serendipity of the afternoon that we hardly minded. The restaurant was situated right down the street from the parade judges stand and sits on the main street in old Baltimore City. Among the interesting sights of the parade was a truck fitted out to be a steam calliope, something none of us had ever seen or heard before in our whole lives. Also parading were a group from the Hog Island mummers in assorted costumes, a motorcycle group called S.O.B.s (Semites on Bikes) who have as their logo a skull wearing a skullcap, various high school marching bands and the usual assortment of paraders who you would expect to see at a hometown parade. The afternoon was weirdly delightful, and when we returned, Alex was hard at work stuffing more sausages, refining and perfecting his technique. The girls went out to finish building a snowman, and we headed for home.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

just sending along my love to , and warm wishes for the Holidays!!

-- Larry Cravetz