Wednesday, May 26, 2010

25 Boxes Unpacked

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This has been a whirlwind of a month filled with a flurry of happy activity with one notable, and horrific, exception. We returned home from a week of helping Ari get set up in his new dream house only to find a home phone message that our good friends’ five-week-old grandson had died of S.I.D.S. just before Shavuot. In the shock and horror of losing a new baby and having to make funeral and shiva arrangements, they had misplaced our cell phone numbers and we returned home unaware of the suffering that had taken place in our short absence.

In contrast, everything leading up to the settlement on Ari’s new house went well, the appraisal value was even higher than we had hoped, and all the paperwork was accomplished in record time, from April 27, when Ari signed the final agreement, to settlement on May 12. Saul and I and Ari’s realtor, Jeff, who had spent a year with Ari looking at every property in the neighborhood, did a walk-through of the house, and noted that almost all of the little details on the punch sheet had been finished, and then we attended the settlement, first going to the wrong branch office of the title company. Returning to the new home with bread and salt (a Jewish tradition) and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot that Jeff provided along with champagne flutes, we popped the cork and toasted Ari’s successful move into ownership of his dream house as twilight began to fall.

Since a very full month has gone by since I last posted, I would like to remember some of the highlights of this lovely month, especially since a few days ago was the 46th anniversary of our first date where we attended Olney High School’s Kix and Kapers musical production, doubling with our friends, Wayne and Nadine.

Our first Friday of the month had been long anticipated—a May Day celebration, replete with an intricate may pole dance performed by Sami’s class, at her Waldorf school. We left well before dawn on our two-hour drive with plenty of time to spare, and stopped for breakfast at a Cracker Barrel, not anticipating the severity of morning traffic on the beltway. The last 20 miles took us over an hour. We arrived only a bit late on the quintessential, sunny, and temperate day for such a celebration. We had a brief orientation in Sami’s classroom, where the students presented their individual animal shadow boxes. Sami had studied the giant panda and her shoebox was decorated inside and out with real little bamboo shoots that had been gleaned from a neighbor’s property. She also had a very large cane which she held upright for display like an umbrella. We then toured the school, meeting the teachers, learning a bit of Spanish, enjoying a layered guacamole with nachos made by the Spanish teacher, and impressed especially by the well-stocked craft room and woodworking room. After that, Jessica joined us, and all the guests filed across the street to the strains of a bagpipe played by one of the students, to another building where amidst plays and musical numbers performed by the students, the king and queen of May were crowned—parents of some of the students. This accomplished, we filed outside to an open grassy field for the May pole dance, performed by fourth grade girls in pinafores and boys in tunics to music performed by high schoolers on their wooden recorders. The intricate weaving of the brightly-colored banners on the pole was a sight to behold, and we were equally impressed by the un-weaving, which could have gone very badly had anyone made a mistake. We opted to have lunch with Sami at a kosher restaurant, Accents, near Izzy’s public school rather than partake of the school’s stall food, for we were expected at her grandparents’ day celebration the same afternoon.

Jess went back to work after lunch, and we arrived late for an absolutely excellent storyteller in the auditorium as Jess had been off in her timing by half an hour. The theme of the day was conveying your ethnic heritage through storytelling, and Saul had been booked ahead of time to tell his “Shmuel” stories to Izzy’s class. Many of the children were dressed in garb native to their grandparents’ countries and there were several Asian children that were spectacular in their intricate costumes. Saul, in his usual way, had the class rapt as he told stories from his childhood in Israel and the time he damaged his father’s bicycle trying a stupid trick, a bicycle which was his father’s only means of transportation to work, and how he worked cleaning up a machine shop for a week in exchange for the owner fixing the bike so that his father would not find out. When we returned to Jess and Alex’s house, Alex had prepared a Shabbat dinner of grilled chicken and rice. Ari joined us and we drove home in our Prius after dinner leaving Ari’s Mercedes for Alex to bring late Saturday night. Jessica joined us earlier on Saturday with the girls and we had a terrible dinner experience, along with Beth and Brenna, at a nearby pizzeria, Franconi’s. With three children and a baby, the nine of us sat for over an hour waiting for our food with not even a roll to stave off hunger while everyone else in the restaurant was served before us. Saul eventually got up and went into kitchen himself to get a straight answer and found that our waitress had forgotten to put in our order. When the food actually was served, the waitress accidentally dripped a whole mess of red sauce off of one of the plates into Jessica’s open handbag and just continued on like nothing had happened. For the first time ever, we decided not to leave any tip at all. The restaurant, apologetically, charged us for only half the dinner and gave us a coupon for $20 off the next time we come. Needless to say, we will probably never eat there again. The children were troopers through it all and behaved beautifully through the entire experience.

We spent several hours with Ari looking at furniture at expensive stores. After that, at Beth’s suggestion, we went to The Dump and bought almost the same Natuzzi leather furniture suite we had seen at the more expensive stores for much less, along with hotel-style mattresses and a leather sleeper sofa and ottoman that opens into a twin bed. The movers delivered the furniture two days after settlement and unfortunately dropped the sofa and made a small hole in the leather. The store is supposed to be replacing it in about a month. Ari was able to get his wonderful Great Scott movers to deliver his old furniture the next day after settlement. Most of it went into the rental unit so that he can rent it as a furnished apartment. We spent the first night in the new house sleeping in the garden level rental unit. Once the new furniture and beds were delivered, we spent the second night after settlement in the house itself.

On Mother’s Day, we hosted a brunch and celebrated Yona’s first birthday. The weather turned very windy and chilly and we were stuck indoors, but at least it didn’t rain. After lunch and the party, Jess and Alex drove home together in their SUV. We made a second trip to The Dump in the afternoon to check out some furniture with our cousin, Ann, and Beth decided to buy two sofas. That evening, Ann picked up her son, Ben, and we had a delicious dinner together with Ari at Jasmine in Glenside. The next day, Ari did another training session for the law firm in downtown Philadelphia and drove his own car home.

The day after that, Tuesday, we drove to DC and we offered a ride to one of Saul’s star students from Chestnut Hill College who was applying for an entry-level job at Ari’s firm. She was offered the job and took it to everyone’s delight. Saul met her parent’s, who have a winery in Sonoma, at commencement and they were absolutely thrilled and gave him a very special bottle of wine as a thank you.

Saul and I returned home from helping Ari to make settlement and move in so that Saul could attend Chestnut Hill’s commencement and I could undergo a routine colonoscopy the following Monday morning. This time, they did find a small polyp which was removed, but now I need to go for a follow-up in three years. The next day, we were on our way to Baltimore to pick up Izzy at noon from her sample half-day at Waldorf School. Jess and Alex have been so pleased with Sami’s education, that they are hoping to send Izzy next year as well. We met Jess at her job at Pearlstone Center and loaded up her SUV with leftover plants from the EcoRide that we purchased there. Then, Saul, Jess, Izzy and I had bean burritos at a Qdoba. After that, Jess and I went food shopping, while Saul went back to Waldorf with Izzy to pick up Sami. We had a wonderful fish dinner, prepared by Alex, Erev Shavuot and then drove to DC. We attended services both days of Shavuot at Chizuk Amuno. The first day, after services, Jess and I baked gingerbread men and women with Sami, Izzy, Jacob, and Lilly in preparation for Abby’s wedding celebrations. We are hoping to get them decorated as brides and grooms this week.

Saul and I did a lot of gardening work at Ari’s house last week, but needed to come home again on Sunday so that I could meet with my sleep doctor as a followup to a sleep study I had done earlier in the month. My apnea has not changed, but I finally got a new mask that is more comfortable and a much smaller and lighter CPAP machine.

The last week of May was spent catching up with housework and gardening at home. Saul had meetings at school to prepare for next year as department chairman while he is relieving the current chairman while she takes her sabbatical. Faith got a new car, a Mazda 3 with all the bells and whistles. We spent an evening with her, had a wonderful dinner at Max and David’s together, and helped her program her new GPS with her kids’ addresses. We also drove up to our vacation home in the Poconos on the spur of the moment to meet with a realtor about putting that home back on the market. We are looking forward to spending Memorial Day weekend with the kids.

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