Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Snowy Weekend, Flight Canceled

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We were very excitedly looking forward to this weekend. Although a giant snowstorm was predicted, the forecast seemed to show that we would be able to get out of town before it began. Then, on Thursday and Friday the weather predictors began moving up the starting time earlier and earlier.

Our cookie packaging on Thursday evening went smoothly even though we had a bit of a bump in the morning. Early in the day, Adele realized that we did not have enough cellophane on the gigantic 30-inch wide roll to cover all the packages this year. I checked around and remembered that last year we had used up a second roll that we had purchased 20 years ago. After an hour of checking around on the net, I located what we needed by contacting the florist supplier for whom I had worked over twenty years ago, and was able to buy the roll from a salesman with whom I had worked, at wholesale price, from his garage in Jenkintown. We had a great conversation about our lives 20 years ago and he filled me in on some of the details of the lives of people I had known back then. Saul drove to Jenkintown immediately, paid him, and he loaded our trunk with the 45-lb. roll. After eating pizza that Ken had brought and lighting the seventh Chanukah candle, the cookie packaging went very efficiently and we were done in record time this year by 10:00 p.m. Our crew included us, Adele and Larry, Ken and Randi, Beth and Larry Shipper, who participated in this for the first time this year. He is a quick study! :o)

Since we were supposed to leave for Chicago very early on Saturday morning (7:15 a.m.), I encouraged Jess not to come up this weekend with the girls as we had planned. In addition, our realtor had called earlier in the week to say that he would be bringing potential buyers either Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning. They eventually chose Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and that would have meant that Jessica would have had to clean up the house and be out of here very early on Saturday. That left us with the dilemma of how to get the cookies to Jess and Ari for the kids’ teachers and their offices. Jess enlisted her in-laws, who were traveling down for their grandson, Jacob’s birthday party on Sunday. Friday morning, we loaded up the car and delivered cookies to Marianne, Laura, and Chestnut Hill College colleagues and then headed down I-95 to the border of Maryland to meet Maury and Elaine to hand off the cookies to them at a Cracker Barrel at Exit 109B on their way to Olney, Maryland.

When we arrived back home at about 3:30 p.m., we decided to do some last minute shopping at Costco mainly to pick up fresh flowers for the Shabbat dinner table and so that our potential buyers would enjoy them also. Larry and Beth joined us for dinner, which I pulled from the freezer earlier in the day—homemade challah, smoked turkey split pea soup, iceberg lettuce salad, stuffed cabbage, potato latkes, and chocolate cake. By Friday afternoon, the major snowstorm was predicted to start at 3:00 a.m. and I hoped that if the flight was going to be canceled anyway, it would happen before I arrived at the airport. Saul and I finally finished packing and fell asleep around 11:30 p.m. wondering if we would actually be flying out to visit Susan and Ted in Chicago or not. We both kept opening one eye about every hour to check on the storm. We were both awake before the alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. and discovered that not a flake had fallen yet and that there were no delays at the airport. We were on the road to the airport by 4:30 a.m. allowing an hour to reach the parking garage where we had made arrangements to leave our car. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:15 a.m. About halfway down to the airport, the blizzard began with a vengeance. We encountered almost an inch of snow already on the highway and in the pre-dawn darkness, with strong winds whipping the heavy snow, visibility became increasingly poor. Finally, I asked Saul to turn around and take us back home. Whether the flight was officially canceled or not, neither one of us wanted to take off for an optional vacation trip in a blizzard, and neither one of us wanted to take the chance that we would be stranded in Chicago and miss a vacation at our home in the Poconos with our children and grandchildren.

In our efforts to turn around on unfamiliar on and off ramps, and with the poor visibility, we accidentally began to head the wrong way into oncoming traffic coming off the highway, but luckily realized our mistake in time to quickly back up out of the way and find the correct on ramp. Within 15 to 20 miles, as we began to approach home, the snow began to diminish to a flurry. Within a few miles of our home, the roads were dry and there was not a sign of a snowflake. Arriving home, we immediately canceled and rescheduled our trip online for June to avoid losing our initial money, but the summer flight is costing an additional $200 because we were the ones who canceled. Our flight was the last to leave Philadelphia before every other flight was canceled for the day. We took a chance on the cheap rates, but in this case, we gambled and lost. As I finished unpacking, the snow was beginning to fall here. We called the realtor at 8:30 a.m. to see if our potential buyers were still coming. The snow was heavy by then, and they were not, but they asked if they could come Sunday morning at 10 a.m. When I finally fell asleep, I was out until after 3:00 p.m. On Sunday morning, at 8:00 a.m., peering out the window at the pristine thick white blanket of snow which covered everything, we again called the realtor to find out if we should hustle to clear a path and put everything away, but were relieved that they wanted to reschedule yet again for Tuesday morning. For a while, we lazily dozed off, enjoying the muffled quiet of a heavy snow day, but soon we awakened to the sound of plows and snowblowers as everyone began to dig out. By 11:00 a.m., our trusty guy who mows our lawn and plows our snow had completely cleared our driveway and shoveled all our sidewalks and walkways. The sun appeared and began to melt away the cleared areas so that by late afternoon, the plowed roads were already dry. We spent the afternoon cleaning and organizing the house and shampooing rugs and furniture.

We decided to meet our friend Larry, whose later flight to Chicago on Saturday had been canceled, for dinner at the Bonefish Grill. He had a coupon for $10 off that was about to expire on December 31. We ate a very satisfactory meal, early, at a nearly empty restaurant where the entire staff participated in serving us—very, very unusual for Bonefish Grill on a Sunday evening. Saul and I shared an entrĂ©e and I had wanted to order their signature chocolate brownie dessert, but neither Saul nor Larry would agree to share it with me and I could not begin to eat something of that size by myself. Returning home, I ate a slice of leftover chocolate cake from Shabbat dinner with a mug of tea. Then, Saul opened a tin a chocolates that were a gift from his department chairperson. I had a few of those as well and headed off to watch television in bed before intending to go to sleep early.

Suddenly, the doorbell rang. When Saul answered the door, there were Manuel and Ilsa, Beth’s renters from next door, bearing as a gift for us a beautiful chocolate-glazed chocolate cake that they had made themselves. I invited them in for coffee and to share the cake, and to be polite, I had yet another slice of delicious chocolate cake. I can definitely say that there is such a thing as too much chocolate, although I never would have believed it before!

Today, we decided to head up to the mountain house a day early to be out of the house when, hopefully, our potential buyers finally arrive. I arose early this morning and began preparing food for our stay. Saul awoke later and spent the morning helping me. I had mentioned to Larry at Bonefish Grill that I had a coupon for a free slice of cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory that was also about to expire on December 31. We decided to meet for lunch there today. I told Larry to choose the flavor that we would share. He chose pumpkin, but they were all out of both types of pumpkin cheesecake that they carry. Larry, looking at me dolefully, said that he supposed I did not want any form of chocolate cheesecake. I told him to choose anything else that did not contain chocolate. We finally settled on a key lime cheesecake, and it was really incredibly delicious and tasted better with each bite. It did not become cloying, as some flavors do. After lunch, we headed to Trader Joe’s and Costco to pick up supplies sufficient for being snowed in in a mountain retreat with three little girls. Tonight, the car is packed with food in the cold garage, and hopefully, we will be totally packed and on the road, house in total display mode, before our visitors arrive. I hope they love the house as much as we do!

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