Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Preparing to Leave

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We had a leisurely breakfast on Friday. The girls, evidently, have favorite memories of previous “camp” activities. On Friday morning, they requested that I make banana taro pancakes, a request which I gladly accommodated, realizing that they must discuss all their experiences here, and really enjoy and appreciate them. We arranged with Beth and Larry to have Shabbat dinner very early on Friday to be able to attend the Chester County Balloon Festival and watch the hot air balloons glow in the dark. The girls napped after lunch and Beth brought Brenna later in the afternoon as it was her last day of school and Beth only works half days on Friday. While I prepared dinner, the girls played and helped slice up a mountain of mushrooms, which I sautéed. We had chicken soup with matzoh balls, spinach salad with hot dressing, chicken cutlets with satay sauce, black and white rice, and chocolate chip mandelbread. Larry did not join us for the balloon festival, but the rest of us all piled into the SUV for the hour-long trip. The weather was perfect for such an event, not too hot, gentle breezes, and a sunny sky. At first, I was sorry I had made the journey because the girls were not exactly wowed, as we adults were, to be really up close to a beautiful hot air balloon. Booths were set up on the grounds to raise money for a youth group, and Beth took the girls off to make sand art souvenirs. Then, we watched a rather bad marionette show, but it amused the girls for a while. After that, they ran around playing tag until dusk. For the girls, the great success of the evening was discovering fireflies. Another little girl joined us on our blanket who happened to have a special box in which to house the ones they had caught. As darkness fell, we insisted that our kids stay on the blanket. Their little friend, whose parents were nearby, said “I’m not part of your family, right? So I don’t have to stay on the blanket, right?” We all laughed. The glow of the six huge balloons in the dark was spectacular, memorable, and worth the drive, as far as I am concerned.

Brenna slept over at Beth’s house, and had breakfast with us on Saturday morning before being picked up by Erica. We went to services at Melrose B’nai Israel. Rabbi Addison’s sermon was excellent as usual. This week’s parashah (Torah portion), about the red heifer, is particularly difficult to understand and interpret, and he was able to relate the obscure purification ritual to Miriam’s legacy to our people of providing comfort and sustenance through water to those who have been alienated from the community by death or illness. He began with an anecdote of a woman who wanted to be interred, when she died, with a Bible in her right hand and a fork in her left. If this piques your curiosity, write a comment, and I will explain.

After services, we went home, had lunch, changed into comfy clothing, and crawled through miserable bumper-to-bumper traffic to attend the Summer Solstice Celebration at the Kimmel Center downtown. Again, we were happy we made the drive. Architecturally, the Kimmel Center is spectacular. We had never been there before. We parked in a lot just down Broad Street for $10 for the day. The party was a fund-raiser for the center and was very reasonable, $10 per adult and $5 per child. A continuous array of bands, ensembles, and performers entertained from three in the afternoon until dawn. We stayed for about three hours, enjoying activities provided by the Please Touch Museum and Zoo on Wheels, checking out art on display by various artists, trying on costumes used in theater performances, having the girls’ faces painted, and especially, watching the high-energy Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble perform. The audience was invited up to try learning the dances on stage, and Izzy went up and tried, although Sami would not. We had dinner at Cracker Barrel on the way home.

Sunday was Father’s Day, and we let Saul sleep as long as he wanted. Eventually, he joined us for a leisurely breakfast. The girls went upstairs to the playroom and each crafted a diorama for him as a gift. He went off to take care of some business in the office and arranged for a realtor to put our house back on the market while we are away on vacation. I did laundry, cooked, and cleaned. Then, we changed into bathing suits, packed chairs, towels, and snacks, and headed off to Beachcomber for the day. The weather was again glorious, and we stayed at the pool until it closed at 8 p.m., something we had never done before. The girls were in the water until hands and feet were as wrinkled as prunes. We arranged to have pizza delivered to the swim club and ate it at the picnic tables for dinner. When we returned, after showering, the girls wanted to try their hands at catching fireflies in the backyard using the bug kit with an insect vacuum that we had bought for Izzy several months ago. Braving the mosquitoes for a little while, they were able to capture one and put it in the special box. They kept it in their room that night and I released it in the morning.

On Monday, we had intended to visit Saul’s mom at Lion’s Gate, but we wound up making an appointment to sign papers with a realtor at 4 p.m. We cleared out a number of things to donate to Impact! to prepare the house to be shown and took the girls shopping on Monday to try to find a bicycle seat for Yona while we are at the shore. We bought some items at Impact!, a valet for Ari from Bombay Company, an American flag, and a beautiful, framed painting of a palm tree to hang over the palm tree comforter set in the guest room in Ari’s house. We went to Target, Babies R Us and Toys R Us as well. In the afternoon, while we met with the realtor, the girls were invited next door to play with our neighbors’ granddaughters, who are similar in age, in their pool. They were very well behaved all day and we treated them to sushi at King Buffet again, and then carousel rides in the mall.

Since time is short before we leave for Ocean City this weekend, we arranged for someone to come to stage the house for photography yesterday afternoon. Everything went smoothly, but I just did not think about how much would need to be moved and cleared away for staging. The photographer followed on the heels of the stager. After clearing off his desk into a storage box, Saul took the girls off to the pool for the afternoon during the whole process. Immediately, when the four-hour process was over, I curled up in the fetal position for a while on my “freshly-staged” bed to absorb the impact of what I had just undertaken and to deal with the beginning of dismantling the beautiful home we have designed, built, and happily lived in for the last seventeen years. When Saul returned, he and the girls began helping to return some of our things to where they had been. I finished making some beef, mushroom and barley soup I had stupidly started cooking in the early afternoon, and made barbecue beef to take to the shore. The girls loved the soup, and both had two bowls for dinner. Saul and I spent an hour sitting in our stripped-down living room reassuring each other that we had made the right decision while the girls watched movies on t.v. in our bed. This morning, I have been up since 3:30 a.m. fretting over the fact that the whole world will be able to go through our things while we are away and perhaps steal or pilfer stuff. Although I am planning to sell most of our things, I suddenly realized that I will need to go through everything we own in the next few days to figure out what would devastate us if it were missing when we returned. The stager and photographer were subtly warning me about the possibility of theft the entire time they were here. Preparing to leave, my feet are suddenly turning very cold.

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