Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Time Spent Back in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Shortly after packing all our Passover stuff back into the seven cartons in which it is stored, and after restoring the house to the condition in which it started before the arrival of all our guests, Saul and I reluctantly began the drive back north; reluctantly, because we were leaving beautiful, warm weather, and a lovely, inviting pool just outside our door, to return to the land of boots, wool socks, tights, winter coats, and sweaters.

Months earlier, we had planned the trip for a few reasons. We wanted to be present for Yona’s “Alice in Wonderland” fifth birthday party and to make her a decorated cake as we have always done for all the girls on their birthdays. In addition, we still have not selected doctors here in Florida, and it was time for our yearly checkups and colonoscopies. We love our doctors in Pennsylvania and figured we would kill two birds with one stone, as the saying goes, so we scheduled everything to take place within a ten-day period shortly before our scheduled trip to London and Italy. Fortunately, our friends, Ruth and Giora, offered us the use of their home, within a few miles of Jess and Alex’s home, and Rif and Paul’s home. Ruth and Giora were, coincidentally, in Israel at the time. We can’t stay with our kids because I am allergic to Inky, their dog. Other friends and relatives offered their homes as well, but none live as close.

Before the party preparations began, Saul and I joined the girls and Jess for the season’s last pottery session where I got to make a dish that the girls said they would finish at a future time. Another bonus was being able to make challah with Yona’s preschool class on parents day. Alex’s sister, Naomi drove in also with Talia and Ava for the party. Jessica and Alex, as usual, prepared an over-the-top, incredible birthday party. The cake, which Sami, herself baked, was a three-dimensional teapot with mouse peeking out, based on art from the Disney version of the mad hatter’s tea party in the movie, Alice in Wonderland. Working together, with even Yona participating, we all produced the most amazing cake and tea party ever! Part of the fun was Yona’s guests designing and decorating their own party hats and their own cupcakes.

Our check ups, done on separate days because of a policy of the doctor’s office, produced happy results. In both our cases, all our numbers were well within the normal range. This was especially happy for me because Saul had been sticking a needle in my finger every day for the last year to check my blood sugar. He has been so good about this because I am a big coward about needles. My A1C, which was really abnormally high last year (over 10), was normal this time (6.7). This has given me the freedom to test my blood every few weeks instead of every day. The few times we have taken a reading, it has been well within normal, but I have still changed my diet to avoid as much sugar and white flour as I possibly can, a good policy even when my sugar is normal. In the last few months, I have been learning to make some of my favorite Indian dishes, which also contribute to lowering sugar levels with the use of spices like turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, and cumin. A recipe for dosas with masala aloo should appear shortly on my recipe blog. As things turned out, I had to cancel my overdue colonoscopy because the insurance company to which we have been paying large premiums this year refused to cover it, although they did agree to cover Saul’s because he is already on Medicare. Saul had a clear colon this time. Likewise, they only covered half of the expense for my mammogram, which was also clear. Woohoo! :o)

I was really incensed at the insurance company at the time, but since then, I have learned that it is one of the best policies we could have chosen once I am eligible for Medicare in six months. If I had opted out of it at the time, I would not have been able to opt back in. We learned all this in an extensive interview we had with a remarkably-informed, volunteer counselor provided free by the state of Florida for our county, which is Polk. Once Medicare kicks in for me, I will schedule a colonoscopy, which will be covered this time. Our wonderful neighbors here in Florida, Gary and Terry, gave us a list of doctors and dentists who come highly recommended by the folks at the nearby hospital where Terry works. She is the one who informed us about the existence of the health insurance counseling program.

While back up north, we were able to meet our good friends, Larry for lunch, and Roxy and George for dinner. The most difficult part of our new life is missing our friends of many years.

We accomplished much during our visit, and we were happy when it was time to hit the road south again. As the hours passed on our drive home, we began peeling away the coats, sweaters, and socks with the rising temperatures. We were due to fly to London for an extended visit with Ari (for almost two months) within a few days. The stupid thing was that, in order to get the cheapest rate for our flight to London, we had to be back in Orlando to take a flight to Philadelphia, then to Amsterdam, and then to London. We saved several hundred dollars on our flights by driving back to Orlando instead of taking the much shorter flight directly from Philadelphia.

We enjoyed friends and family up north, but we were so happy to be back in our home in Florida for a few days before our trip!

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