Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Begin Again

So much time has elapsed since my last blog post that I wondered if I would ever get back to it again. Consequently, I have decided to tackle the catch-up of roughly the last six months of our lives in several installments. They have been such wonderful months that I think I can say that this past year has probably been one of the best years of my life (and Saul agrees that it is one of the best years of his as well). This is no small claim as we are both old now and struggling with the usual assortment of aches and pains and “the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to,” as Hamlet would lament in Shakespeare’s tragedy. The intervals can be easily divided, though, into “Passover with the Family (preparation and afterwards),” “Time Spent Back in Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” “Vacationing in England and Italy with Ari and Sami,” “Camp Bubbie and Saba in Florida with all three girls,” “Our Four Weeks of Relative Quiet regrouping before Rosh Hashanah 5775.”

Passover with the Family
Ken and Randi spent a few weeks with us in March enjoying the Flower and Garden Festival at Disney, checking out real estate with the intent of moving here, and spending a day meeting a recommended holistic doctor in Tampa Bay after which we lunched at Frenchy’s in Clearwater Beach. The Flower and Garden Festival included a series of “Flower Power” band concerts which we really enjoyed. Ken and Randi were here for Gary Lewis and the Playboys. We had some wonderful dining experiences together, including (with Adele) Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge, (our second favorite Disney restaurant), Jiko (with Adele, Lori and Jules) at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kouzzina, Iron Chef Cat Cora’s restaurant at Disney’s Boardwalk, also Big River Grill, and the Captain’s Grill at the Yacht Club Resort there. At the end of March, they successfully bid on a three-bedroom condo in ChampionsGate, just five miles from our home, and began making plans to sell their house in Pennsylvania. As of this writing, settlement on their PA house takes place on September 30; we are picking them up at the airport that evening. They will be staying with us for a week or two until our contractor, John Hart, has finished the painting and flooring in the condo and their furniture arrives.

When we packed to move to Florida, Saul and I consolidated seven plastic cartons containing everything we would need to prepare a kosher Pesach for the entire family. Jess flew down with the three girls a couple of days before the Easter vacation and, as a result, got an absolutely fantastic rate (under $350 for all four of them). Alex drove down a few days later when his school ended, stopping in DC to visit with his sister’s family before tackling the long leg of the trip in one day. He brought an SUV loaded with all the accessories for the seder that has been taking place at their house for the last several years. As soon as they arrived from the airport in Orlando, the girl’s headed straight for their bedrooms, donned their bathing suits, and were in the pool within a half hour of their arrival. It was especially satisfying for all of them because of the polar vortex weather up north. Ahead of our preparations for Pesach, we spent a couple of days at the Flower and Garden Festival and the Magic Kingdom, having lunch at “Be Our Guest.” Yona was a little freaked out because we ate in the dark room of Beast’s castle where, periodically, simulated thunder and lightening enhanced the dark mood. We had a wonderful buffet dinner, along with Beth and Ari, who also arrived to celebrate the holiday, at Boma in Animal Kingdom Lodge. Saul and I purchased a Vision Kamado grill at Costco which we inaugurated during the holiday preparations, and which did a wonderful job of producing delicately smoked turkey, fish, and veggies. While the rest of us wrapped up our preparations for the holiday, Beth and Ari, who barely get to see each other any more, took a break and had a bonding afternoon at a nearby salon for pedicures and massages. Adele and Larry joined us for our first seder in Florida. We had a lively, lovely, and relatively stress-free seder with all the familiar accoutrements from past years. Our second seder was just as wonderful.

We spent the day after the seders just hanging around the pool and relaxing. Beth flew back to Arizona. The day after, we spent the morning at Animal Kingdom, where, among other entertainments, Izzy finally got to ride with her mom and Uncle Ari on the Expedition Everest roller coaster, twice. After lunch at home, a shower and a brief nap, we spent the evening at Hollywood Studios and saw Fantasmic! again. Yona chose not to see it again and spent some quality time bonding with Saba at some of the other attractions. She really enjoyed painting water-color Disney characters on the walkway at the exit with one of the Disney employees. We spend the remainder of the holiday dipping in and out of the parks and pool, enjoying such delights as a rock concert by The Grass Roots, Yona’s meeting with Alice in Wonderland, the butterfly pavilion at Epcot and the special Monsters University playground there. We were sad to bid our family goodbye and send them off back to the cold and bleak temperatures up north and “across the pond to the U.K.” We were even sadder that we were going to have to follow them into that weather within a few days for several reasons. Yona’s Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter birthday party, medical checkups and a colonoscopy for Saul with our usual doctors.

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