Monday, April 29, 2013

Too Sweet Tout de Suite

Tout de suite (in French, pronounced tüt-swʸēt) is an expression that means “all at once.” That is how my life has been unfolding these past few weeks since my last post. Every day has been a challenge in one way or another, good and bad. Let me start with the bad. Almost two weeks ago, I had my yearly physical with my internist. I should probably schedule yearly exams a year in advance, as my doctors are so booked up that my checkups usually are stretched to every year-and-a-half. Saul went in for his checkup two days later, as they will not schedule two in one day in case of cancellations. When I accompanied Saul, I was informed that my blood profile had returned and that my A1C reading was 10.2. A reading over 7 indicates diabetes. The doctor introduced this information by telling me that I must be very sweet. I was horrified. I have been waiting for diabetes to descend upon me all my life, as my paternal grandfather died from a diabetic coma, my father was insulin dependent, and my mother developed mild adult-onset diabetes as she aged. I am in my sixties, overweight since menopause by about 40 lbs., and I have been able to eat whatever I pleased without too much concern for all of my life. I think I have a relatively healthy diet. I don’t do fast food, fruit juice, soda, hamburgers, or vast quantities of melted cheese. I only eat meat once in a while, and I love fresh fruit, veggies, fish, and salads. But, I do have a “sweet tooth.” I expected that eventually, as I aged, my A1C would begin to rise and the doctor would warn me so that I would have a chance to modify my diet and avoid medication. To my dismay, none of that was to be. For the last 10 days, I have been on a strict diet and have had a nasty reaction to the first medication, Metformin. Since the number is so high, the doctor insisted that I try another, Glimepiride. In addition, I have become a human pin-cushion. Thank God, Saul is not squeamish and has been poking me twice a day to measure my blood sugar. We haven’t worked out the One Touch meter very well. I have had to be poked numerous times to get the requisite drop to fill the meter. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, everything will settle into a nice normal pattern again.

The good news (I hope) is that we appear to have won the poker game that now is the procedure for bidding on a foreclosed home in Florida. It is really ludicrous! We bid on this particular house while it was a short sale several months ago and lost it to Fannie Mae, which decided to foreclose, take it off the market, “relocate” the tenants, clean it up, and then put it back up on the market. It is a house that is right around the corner from the house where we stayed in December when we were vacationing with the family, and it has the identical layout. The bank sets a particular price and then investors are invited to bid on it through a broker. Our first bid was a bit under the asking price. After that, we were informed that there were other bidders and we were invited to raise, stand pat, or withdraw, just like with a poker hand. Legally, we are not allowed to know what the other bids are, so if you up the bid, you may just be bidding against yourself. We decided to up the bid to a little bit over the asking price. At that point, we were informed that a new bid had come in and the bank was required by law to inform all the other bidders and again invite them to raise, stand pat, or fold without knowing the amount of any of the other bids. This time, we decided to stand pat and as Saul said, “let it ride.” After last Wednesday, the bank had the right to turn down all the existing bids and open up the bidding to additional investors who would not necessarily be occupying the house. A good sign was that on Wednesday, the last day before it could have been opened to additional bidders, Fannie Mae asked us to produce evidence that we would truly be occupying the house for at least one year after purchase. We sent them a copy of our agreement of sale on our present house. On Friday afternoon, we learned that they had accepted our offer. From that date, by law, we had exactly 10 days to have the house inspected and let Fannie Mae know if we intended to proceed with the sale or withdraw our offer. If we decided to accept, we had exactly 30 days from the  Friday we were notified, April 19, to complete settlement, which we are legally bound to do once we accepted. Let me say that it is more than a little bit scary to buy a house where you have never actually been inside. At our request, my brother-in-law Larry drove over from The Villages, an hour away, to meet the home inspector and insect inspector. After extensive reports by Larry, the home inspector, and the insect inspector, we decided to buy it before we have seen it. We plan to drive down in a few days, after the fact, to take a look.

Part of the “all at once” nature of these last two weeks is that on the same Wednesday we had hoped to have a decision on the house, Saul was honored by Chestnut Hill College on the occasion of his retirement. Jess had other commitments and could not attend, but sent a congratulatory planted bowl of fresh herbs with the wish that he would now have “lots of thyme” to enjoy life. Larry S. attended, as well as next year’s president of MBI-EE, who also teaches at the college. Ari drove in from DC the previous evening to attend the ceremony and we had hoped to fly down to Florida together, last minute, over that weekend. Since we did not get the acceptance until Friday, it was too late to make arrangements. That was the same Friday that I found out about my diabetes. The retirement ceremonies were heartfelt, touching, creative, and gratifying. Wonderful speeches were made by some of his colleagues and students to express their appreciation. He received a beautifully-crafted, personalized, wooden box, a generous cash award, and a lovely geranium plant that was the centerpiece of our table at the dessert reception afterward. It was very sweet to know how much his teaching and support was appreciated by faculty, administration, and students.
The day after joining the kids for Shabbat dinner on Friday, we celebrated Izzy’s Aleph Consecration at TBS on April 13, a lovely ceremony that began with the 36 students in the Aleph class being escorted into the chapel with a member of their family, where they received a certificate. Since Alex was in charge of the ceremony, Izzy chose her “saba” to accompany her. It was very sweet to watch as the children came up in small groups to competently contribute their parts in the services. The services were followed by a light luncheon with a make-your-own-sundae bar. We ate very lightly, as Jess and Alex had prepared a luncheon at home for us in Izzy’s honor. As we whiled away a few hours over the table discussing our upcoming plans, we were delighted to spend a sweet afternoon with our children and grandchildren. Jess suggested, as we were discussing the plans for Sami’s upcoming bat mitzvah, that I do a painted frame that could be scanned, digitized, and used for her “save the date” and invitation. I loved the idea and set about doing that painting over a period of about four days immediately afterward.

The Friday before last was the one fraught with all kinds of momentous news. As I took the completed painting over to Sami, Saul, Ari and I purchased a bottle of prosecco at Roger Wilco to toast the success of our Florida venture. Jess and Alex ordered Indian takeout for Shabbat dinner from a wonderful nearby vegetarian restaurant, Rajbhog, Alex made a curried squash soup as a first course. Over that weekend we enjoyed spending time with Ari, and together, making plans for the future.

During the week after Ari went back to DC, I was recovering from an adverse reaction to the first medication, and beginning the second medication, which seems to suit me better. Towards the end of last week, I baked and decorated a “ball pit” birthday cake for Yona’s 4th birthday party, which she shared with her best friend from school, Julia. I attended Faith’s class on Thursday, which, by coincidence, featured the Torah portion, Mikketz, from which Sami will read on her bat mitzvah. Its imagery had been the subject of the invitation painting that I had just completed, Pharoah’s dream of seven fat cows being consumed by seven emaciated cows and seven abundant heads of grain being consumed by seven parched heads of grain. Joseph’s success in the interpretation of the dream is what brought our people to Egypt, subsequently to be enslaved when we became too numerous and successful.

Last Friday, Saul took me to the hospital early for another blood test. Afterward, Saul caught up with end-of-the-semester work for a few hours while I got an upscale haircut and then we drove out to Cherry Hill with Yona’s cake to have Shabbat dinner. Alex made yummy miso soup, assorted sushi, and panko-fried fish. The kids had leftover fruit sorbets from Passover for dessert. We brought Sami home with us so that we could all attend Faith’s granddaughter Sophie’s bat mitzvah on Saturday evening in Metuchen, NJ. Sami and Sophie know each other through Faith, and will be attending Camp Ramah together this summer. For the long drive, we also picked up longtime friends and neighbors from our teaching days at Temple Sinai, Joe and Marilyn. The beautiful and athletically-talented Sophie did a remarkable job of leading the service and reading from the Torah. Between mincha and maariv, there was a 20-minute “intermission” for food, and we all had a chance to mingle around the buffet table and catch up with old friends. After the services, a gala party began with a DJ and buffet dinner. We all had a lovely time and arrived back home, exhausted, at about 1:00 a.m. We slept late the next morning, and about noon, we headed out for Yona’s birthday party, which took place at the JCC where Jessica works. About 20 4-year-olds attended with parents and some grandparents in tow. They had a blast playing in the Imaginarium for an hour or so. Then, we were ushered into a room that was set up to color designs for individualized t-shirts. Each child’s name was lettered onto the transfer paper in advance. Then everyone filed out to another room where the tables were set for birthday cake, soft pretzels, fresh fruit and drinks. While the staff ironed on the transfers, the kids were able to spend another hour in the Imaginarium.
After the party, Elaine, Alex’s mom, went home, but the rest of the family went for a.y.c.e. sushi at Winnie Q Restaurant. Rif called Paul to join us there, as he was finished working for the day. Both Yona and Izzy were so tired from their play that they both fell asleep sprawled across the banquettes at the restaurant. We were able to rouse them for a few minutes to down some fried ice cream for dessert. They shared an order. Then we all separated and headed for home.

It was an incredible weekend, full of sweetness and satisfaction at the wonder of our beautiful families, and, for me, full of gratification at being able to create things that bring joy to all of us. I hope the sweetness continues, not in my diet, where I will have to learn to manage it, but in all our lives. One sweet aspect of even the bad part, is that for the first time since menopause, I can easily fit back into my favorite size 12 clothing that I have stored away for a long time, of which I was about to rid myself in our upcoming move soon to Florida. Fitting back into that clothing, tout de suite, was pretty sweet, too.

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