Friday, June 18, 2010

Camp Bubbie and Saba Opens

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Wednesday dawned gray and threatening. Thunderstorms were predicted at any time and I awoke with a headache from the atmospheric pressure. “Picnic at the Zoo,” our official opening activity this year, did not look promising. As the day progressed, however, the sun did peek out several times and Saul and I managed to hit several stores to shop for and accumulate all the possible food items the girls could want. This was no easy task as their taste in food is completely opposite from one another and finding items that will satisfy both is a real challenge. During the afternoon, I managed to prepare a large Israeli salad for Saul, adding tiny cubes of a mild purple radish we found at Assi Market, creating the most colorful Israeli salad ever! I also bought an assortment of mushrooms, white, portobello, and eryngii, or French horn mushrooms, and sautéed them with onions and soy sauce. I made a big bowl of black and white rice, one of the few things they both adore. As the time for the picnic grew closer, the rain had continued to hold off, so Saul and I decided to prepare the picnic anyway. We packed lox and bagel sandwiches, assorted veggies, boxed drinks, potato chips (supposedly with artichoke and parmesan dip which we forgot at home), assorted slices of cheese, and Late July Oreo cookies with green tea. Our alternative plan if the storms began was to meet Jessica downtown at the vegetarian restaurant, Singapore, and have our picnic for breakfast the next day. We always joke about the fact that Jessica has a weather genie. When she plans to attend an event, it never rains. She was so sure that it would not rain on her outdoor wedding that she would not let me make alternative plans and the pattern of clear weather has held now for many years.

Between shopping, cooking, making sure the house was ready for the girls, and Chuck, our painter, touching up our walls, neither one of us was positive we had turned off the mushrooms on the stove and had to enlist Beth to reassure us. Of course, I had turned them off. Although we got caught in horrible traffic on the way to the zoo, arriving an hour late, the picnic was going strong with the small group of intrepid and optimistic people who, like us, believed the threatened storm would hold off long enough. It did. The rain did not begin until the party was over at 8 p.m. The girls rode on the little zoo train, and patted bunnies, birds, sheep and goats. In Izzy’s case, the patting included a live fuzzy tarantula and several other insects, large and small. Sami and I managed to be elsewhere when the large tarantula came out for Saul and Izzy. I have never gotten over my fear of spiders.

We tucked the girls into bed with a short “Shmuel” story from Saul, and went to bed exhausted, but with great satisfaction. Adding to that satisfaction was the fact that Ari, with only a day’s notice, had taken a “Relativity” test in Chicago. His boss had suggested on Tuesday that he call and see if there were any last minute openings to take the test, which is offered monthly. There was an opening, and the boss also suggested that he fly in and out on the same day. So Ari spent Wednesday in Chicago for about eight hours, and passed a test that less than a dozen people have passed so far. This gives him certification and privileges with the software company in accessing their top technical support. We all went to bed very happy on Wednesday night.

Yesterday, the girls awoke us at 7 a.m. as agreed. We all had a wonderful breakfast together, with an assortment of absolutely beautiful and delicious fresh summer fruit—giant strawberries and blueberries, peaches, pink lady apples, seedless red grapes, apricots, bananas and ripe avocados. While I cleaned up, Saul took the girls outside and together they planted tomatoes in the garden. I joined them and spent about an hour weeding. Then we began the process that Jessica calls “dumping day,” where the girls go through their toys, books, and projects to organize and donate some of them. We had a very successful and enjoyable afternoon and by dinnertime their room and closet were organized and clean. They were dying for sushi at their favorite restaurant in the area, King Buffet in Plymouth Meeting Mall, and they also wanted to revisit what they call the “castle playground,” which is actually called Park-Sci Playground in Upper Gwynedd. We called Beth, who works nearby, and she joined us at the mall for dinner. Then we drove directly to the playground where they romped until dark. After another shower, one following gardening, and one following playground, they were again tucked into bed with another short Shmuel story that had them full of giggles as he described his misadventures with a “bleishtift,” or blue carpenter’s pencil that was given to him by his carpenter father in the first grade and how he turned his mouth blue and could not get rid of the awful flavor of the extra-strong graphite.

The first full day of Camp Bubbie and Saba was a great success!

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