Monday, January 11, 2010

Twenty Ten and Beyond

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We packed up the girls and headed down to Baltimore on Thursday, New Year's Eve Day. After dropping the girls at home, along with some perishable food from our refrigerator, we checked into our hotel room at the Sheraton in Towson and took a nap. I was not feeling really well during most of the weekend because I had caught a cold in just the right side of my head. Does anyone else ever get sick on just one side of their body? We rendezv0used at Jess and Alex's at about 8 p.m. to snack on cheeses, chips, Alex's homemade pizzas, and various dips and to watch the animated movie, The Incredibles. By 10:30, Ari was dozing in his chair, I was struggling to stay awake and dealing with my allergies on top of the cold, and Saul was more than willing to call it a night and head back to the hotel, which we did. Jess said that Alex fell asleep on the couch right after we left, and she and Izzy fell asleep about 11:45 p.m. Only Sami was awake to watch the ball drop. Some live wires we are!

Ari drove back home after midnight, after he had snoozed for a while. He wanted to wake up in his own bed in his own good time on New Year's morning. Saul and I slept late, had a late breakfast in Towson Mall at The Cheesecake Factory, and we all met up again at Jess and Alex's for Shabbat dinner along with Alex's brother and sister and their families. For dinner we had chicken soup with Alex's gigantic perfect matzoh balls, his homemade sausages with sauerkraut and an assortment of mustard, mashed potatoes, and salad. Saul and I left right after dinner because of my cold and allergies. Alex's sister, Naomi had brought along their huge golden retriever, Casey, not realizing that Saul and I would be there.

During the weekend, Jess brought the girls over to use the indoor pool at the hotel. I was starting to feel better, but decided to wait for the following day to swim. Because of Ari's Starwood points, we were allowed until 4 p.m. to check out. The girls had a blast in the pool, as they usually do, including Yona, who becomes very contented and Buddha-like when she is in the pool with Jess. We arranged to have a grown-up movie night so that we could all see Avatar in 3-D at the Egyptian Theater in Arundel Mills. While Alex baby-sat the girls at home, Ari met us at the theater and we had a quick meal in the food court before seeing this truly astounding and visually stunning movie.

Saul, Jessica and I took Sami and Izzy out for lunch the next day at The Cheescake Factory where we shared a variety of delectable appetizers which almost covered our ample table. The girls finished up with ice cream, while we shared a slice of key lime cheesecake--a great way to start the new year. Unfortunately, afterward, when we arrived at the pool, we found a sign saying that the pool was closed due to mechanical problems. With very disappointed children, we checked out at 2 p.m. and tried to think of a way to assuage their discontent. Saul and I had taken our 4-wheel drive suv this time, in case of inclement weather, which just happened to contain a large cup of coins from Chuck E. Cheese's, leftovers from Camp Bubbie and Saba. Back at Jess's house, we found a nearby outpost and took the girls there. When we arrived, it was so crowded that we had to wait in line to get in. There were grown-ups who were playing the machines as well as many children. When the girls went to cash out their tickets, there was only one functioning ticket machine and at the front of the line was a man and his son putting in over 2000 tickets one-at-a-time. We left again with very disappointed children, but Jessica keeps a "prize box" at home and she allowed them to choose prizes which they knew were far better than anything they would win at Chuck E. Cheese's. After a bowl of Alex's sausage chili, Saul and I headed back home.

Our first week in January was spent organizing things. Adele came over on Monday morning and we went through the remainder of Mom's clothing while Saul prepared for the new semester. Beth had car trouble and borrowed our suv to take to work for a couple of days. On Tuesday, our mission was to buy new suits for Saul. He had not had a new one since Jessica's wedding, thirteen years ago. We spent the day shopping, having lunch yet again at Cheesecake Factory in King of Prussia Mall, checking out Nordstum Rack and finally buying two suits, a Calvin Klein and a Michael Kors at Men's Wearhouse, in preparation for the upcoming family bat mitzvah we are attending in Jacksonville, Florida, this coming weekend. Afterward, we met Ken and Randi for dinner at Bonefish Grill along with Beth. Ken had gone to the hospital in the wee hours of Monday morning thinking he was having a gall bladder attack or a kidney stone, but in fact, discovered that all the pain was from overdoing the rich food in New Orleans during their new year's weekend there. He ate very carefully that night. We met our friend, Faith, for lunch at Pumpernick's on Wednesday. In between all that, while our heating and air conditioning people took another stab, unsuccessfully, at fixing our heat pump, we began to sort out three large cartons of letters and photographs, we completely purged our own closet and donated bags and bags of clothing to Impact, and we began scanning very old photographs to take to the bat mitzvah of ancestors who are related to them. My mother's cousin, Ronnie, has never seen photos of their common grandmother, nor did she even know her grandmother's full maiden name. I discovered a photo I had never seen before of my mother as a six-year-old with an aunt of hers that she also shared with her cousin, Ronnie. It was extremely faded out, but with the magic of Photoshop, I was able to enhance it almost magically.

Armed with a slew of reproduced and enlarged photos, we prepared to leave for our vacation in Florida. Thursday, after I downed a large margarita at lunch (my way of preparing for a flight), we picked up dry cleaning and Saul's newly tailored suits and began packing for Florida. Unfortunately, snow was again expected in the wee hours of the morning, and the temperatures in Florida were setting records for the lowest in recorded history. When we awoke at 4 a.m., snow already was blanketing the ground. The airport, again, was reporting no delays, so we loaded up the suv and headed to our pre-arranged airport parking destination. This time, the snow began to lighten as we approached. Our plane left an hour later than scheduled due to the de-icing procedure, but after that, the flight was blessedly uneventful and smooth. The sun was peeking out and the snow had completely ceased by the time we took off. Uncharacteristically for a trip to Florida, we kept our winter coats, gloves and ear muffs.

Our plane was the emptiest I had ever flown, and our bags for which we paid $20 each, were waiting by themselves alongside of the turnstile in the few minutes it took us to arrange for our car to drive down to Orlando from Jacksonville. We stopped for lunch at a Sonny's Barbecue, a favorite of ours when we are in the South, and proceeded on our drive to Orlando. The weather was rainy and extremely cold with temperatures similar to those we had left in Philadelphia.

We are staying at a timeshare resort called Orange Lake, which is right next to our home resort of Summer Bay, because this week was entirely booked at Summer Bay. We were told that this resort would be even nicer than Summer Bay, and because of that, we were quite disappointed with the accommodations, although they are more than adequate with a beautifully landscaped view of the golf course. Lending an additional disappointment is the fact that for several days, the weather has been frigid. Because of the cold rain, we picked up some provisions at a nearby Publix supermarket, and went to an outlet mall on our first day here and bought some nice clothing to fill the new holes in our cleaned out closet. We spent yesterday walking around Pleasure Island and Downtown Disney after seeing the movie, Sherlock Holmes, there. The movie was enjoyable, but I was bothered by all the holes in the plot. Even though the sun was shining, Saul felt it necessary to put up the hood on his winter coat and I kept my hands in my pockets for warmth. It was really too cold to be outdoors for any length of time. We have had huge breakfasts each morning at Cracker Barrel, Golden Corral and Shoney's. Last night, we dined at Bonefish Grill to take advantage of our gift card coupons. Tonight, we had baked potatoes for dinner, having overindulged at the breakfast buffet. We bought two-day, park hopper, permanent tickets yesterday, and had agreed that we would use them only if the temperature was 40 degrees or above today. When we awoke early this morning to check, the temperature in Orlando was 29 degrees and was not expected to top 36 degrees. Saul spent the day catching up with work on the computer and I goofed off in front of the television most of the day, other than writing this blog post. Tomorrow, the temperatures are expected to rise above 40 to perhaps as high as 70 and sunshine is expected until the weekend. We are hoping and planning to spend the next two days park hopping at Disney World. I hope the weather people are right. I am really glad we brought warm clothing, despite the fact that we thought as we packed that we must be crazy bringing all this gear to Florida. We are looking forward to days at the park, a little rest, and then meeting all these distant relatives during the coming weekend in Jacksonville.

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