Having had my gallbladder out on Purim, we mutually decided that it was going to be too much physical stress for me to host a seder this year. Ian and Alida had generously offered that we were welcome to join them for both seders and to stay at their house overnight...plus since shabbos was adjacent to the second day, we also stayed shabbos. This meant I did very little planning, unpacking, or shopping prior to Pesach. Obviously we still did all our usual cleaning and then some. The kitchen was clean, the Pesach cooking utensils were brought down from the attic, chometz was sold, etc. But I didn't do much in the way of planning out meals and shopping because we were to be gone for the first three days. This made for a rather unusual holiday for me, but still a rather pleasant one.
Tuesday (the 15th) I worked in the morning and then went to the dentist. I'd had a bit of a tooth chip off the previous Friday, so I wanted to get it looked at before the holiday. I was certain that I had a cavity, so best to fix it then and there. Well...turns out this was the tooth that I was supposed to get a filling in right before my wedding. But who is stupid enough to schedule a dentist appointment a week before her wedding knowing full well that she's bridezilla? I missed that appointment (completely forgot about it). And then I got sick. And then I had my gall bladder out. And you know... The dentist said that's an awful lot to go through to get out of a dentist appointment. So I needed a root canal. Fun. Since the dentist had the time and I sure didn't want to wait on it, he went ahead and started the root canal, put in a temporary filling and told me to call after the holiday to finish up the work. Then I went back to work. Oh joy.
I finished up some cleaning after work, brought Kosher Chinese food to Jon and Laura's and watched Buffy at their place while eating our last bit of chometz. Buffy was VERY DISTURBING (but still good, of course). Interesting note, while at Royal Dragon picking up food, I ran into Seth Green (no, not the actor), whom we had run into the previous Sunday at Max's and whom I run into occasionally at Ben Yehuda...he seems to be everywhere.
Having not slept much the Tuesday night (shock of shocks),I didn't go to work Wednesday, though I'd originally planned on working a half day. I did some last minute shopping, bought some soda to bring over to Ian and Alida's at Alida's request and assorted other errands. I was still in search of a nice hostess gift to bring to Alida, so I stopped in at Lisbon's, which had the added benefit of letting me search for some reading material. I found a nice ceramic washing cup which I ended up purchasing. While there I ran into...you guessed it... Seth Green (still not the actor). Turned out, he and his wife had a "seder plate incident" (his wife, Jen, later clarified that the "incident" was that they couldn't find theirs). I offered to lend them one of mine since I have several and wasn't planning on using mine this year. We made arrangements for me to drop off the seder plate and I went on my merry way.
Eventually (around 7pm) we made it over to Ian and Alida's. Seth and Ian went off to minyan shortly thereafter and Alida and I finished up preparations for the seder (setting the table, getting the seder plate ready, etc). There were 11 people at the first seder and 10 at the second (mostly the same people both nights). Seth and I always spend at least one seder at their house, so it was mostly the norm. Because of daylight savings time, though, it was really late and we expected a long night. Alida was concerned about her parents driving home, and about Ian's mother, who is diabetic, dealing with a long night and then a drive home, so she instituted a gag rule. She asked Ian to keep commentary during the seder to a minimum and to leave pontification for the festive meal part. Needless to say, Alida even admitted that Ian was not exactly thrilled about this rule. But Alida and I coordinated things pretty well; we made it to the meal in record time without actually feeling that rushed. And Alida and I made sure that the food kept on coming. Fish. Done. Soup. Done. (maybe it was the other order) Turkey, salad, side dishes. Done. Dessert. Done. On to Benching and more! We were done at 12:30. Most people we talked to went until at least 1:30...some as late as 3, so Alida was pleased.
The only regretful part of that system is that I like listening to Ian pontificate. And I like participating in the pontification. And since I was up and down and up and down and up and down, I didn't hear a lot of the discussion. During the seder, I started to ask why the seder plate gets removed right before the four questions and then returned, and then realized what I was doing and said "wait, tell me during the meal"...Ian's response was "Wow! You've been briefed!" (Which, of course, I had). As it turned out, Ian didn't know the answer to the question. So no harm done. Anyway, does anyone know the answer???
First day I woke up relatively early despite not falling asleep until about 4 or 5 in the morning. I went to shul with Ian and Seth at 8:45. Alida came later. I was doing just fine with keeping up with the davening (they are REALLY fast at Woodside), until all of a sudden, for no explainable reason, I had NO IDEA WHERE THEY WERE. I was completely lost. Suddenly, though, I heard a familiar phrase: "Ana Ad-noy Hoshia Na"... duh. Hallel. I'd forgotten about Hallel. My momentary panic subsided and life went on. Though I know I don't need to follow exactly what everyone else is doing...they daven so quickly at Woodside that I'd still be there if I went strictly at my own pace. So I was doing some things at my own pace and others at Woodside Pace.
We had lunch at a friend of Ian and Alida's, Ellen. Lunch was delightful. I had never met Ellen before. She's divorced, has five kids, and is a doctor (family practice). Three of her daughters were at lunch with us, plus her and her mother, and the four of us, so it was a nice crowd. The food was amazing. Really. Her daughter Yael was back visiting from Israel and she brought back CHEESE!! I definitely had forgotten what good cheese tastes like. Ellen, apparently, likes to do all milchig lunches during Pesach because otherwise you get overloaded with meat. I definitely approve. Especially with a daughter that brings back CHEESE! Wow. I don't even remember what kind of cheese it was (though one was reminiscent of brie), but it was incredible. I wonder if you can get good kosher cheese in New York. You sure can't in Baltimore. Not like this, anyway. I'd be willing to take a trek to NY for cheese. Heck, I went to Crown Heights for Cheese Puffs once.
During dessert, which was a marvelous strawberry pie with whipped cream and also some yummy chocolates from Israel, a large chunk of my tooth broke off. While I was eating whipped cream. The temporary filling was still there, but golly did it hurt. Tears streaming down my face, I was mortified. What a thing to happen in someone else's home, during Pesach, while I'm away from my own surroundings. Ick. Fortunately, Ellen being a doctor and all, she had some pain medicine, and didn't seem freaked out about the tearful Karen at her table. I was soon back to normal-ish.
After lunch, Ian took me to go ask a rabbi what I could do about my poor tooth. The community around Woodside has about 10 rabbis, so that's handy. Fortunately, our first stop provided the answer we needed. The rabbi said that we could walk down to the dentist that Ian and Alida go to (b/c she's walking distance, not for any other significant reason), and see if she could do something temporary to stabilize the filling, but that she couldn't do anything permanent and that I should be very careful what kinds of chemicals (if any) went into my mouth because they could contain chametz. Fair enough. Except she wasn't there. Nor was she there the next day. Oh well. Fortunately, Seth and I always carry around a lot of pain medicine, so it wasn't the end of the world.
After our little adventure, everyone took a nap except me. I was the designated alarm clock, which was fine. I read for a while instead.
Second Seder and Second day
Second Seder was remarkably like the first, except with brisket instead of turkey and cold carrot soup instead of matzoh ball soup. We ended, amazingly, at 12:40. I don't know how we did it, since we started an hour later than the first night. Alida went pretty quickly to bed...who could blame her? Ian, Seth and I talked for a bit. Eventually, Ian and Seth went to bed. I read Tehillim for a while. Nothing else has been helping me sleep, and it can't ever be a bad thing to read Tehillim, so there you have it. It didn't help me sleep, but it did put me in a slightly better mood. I fell asleep around 7am. Ian woke us up to go to shul, and I got up and got ready but then decided I'd wait until later to go. What ended up happening was that I didn't go. I took a nap instead. And you know, it was pretty darned nice, too. Still, I should have gone. Sigh.
We had a nice lunch (leftovers) at Ian and Alida's. Alida and I eventually wandered over to Nancy's and chatted for a while. We'd been hoping to take her daughter Nicole to the park, but Nicole wasn't interested in going unless Nancy was going to go with her, and the point was to give Nancy a break! I really like Nancy, so it was nice to see her, even for a brief visit.
Akiva came to dinner for Shabbos, which is always a joy. He's very witty, very intelligent, quirky enough to be interesting, and he has such a tremendously beautiful outlook on life. Plus, he's generous with his time and his praise and he's extremely modest about it all. I do hope that one day he finds his bashert, though I don't get the impression he's especially looking right now. I could be wrong. I clearly don't discuss the issue with him directly. Dinner was much more relaxed and homey than the previous two nights, so it was a nice change.
Saturday I got to shul at 8:45 again, which was good. Alida and Seth came later (though separately, I hear). I remembered Hallel this time, which made for a less confusing experience. After shul, we all went over to Celeste and Michael's house for a delicious lunch. Michael had had some medical issues right before Yom Tov, so he hadn't been in shul all week...but he appeared to be doing better and he had plans to see another doctor after Pesach. Mike and Celeste are both excellent chefs, so lunch at their home, even sans gebrochts, was INCREDIBLE. I generally think of myself as a good cook, but I see now that I have much to learn. Fortunately, I'm still young. I have lots of time to get better.
Celeste served a veal roast (which was yummy, yummy, yummy), tabouleh made from quinoa, homemade guacamole, sauteed mushrooms and onions, fresh sausages with peppers and onions, mashed potatoes, stewed cold beets (major yum, which surprised the heck out of me), some sort of kugel if I remember correctly), and I think something else that I'm forgetting. Plus, of course, dessert. YUM YUM YUM.
I always enjoy talking to Celeste, and I hope for many more opportunities in the future. :)
I ended up taking a Saturday afternoon nap, which was nice, though short. Seth and I returned home after Havdallah on Saturday. Though I truly appreciated their hospitality, it was nice to come home, especially since the house was clean.
Anyway, that was the first three days of Pesach. There's more. But I think this post has more than exceeded anyone's attention span. If you actually made it this far, you deserve a medal. I don't have one to give you, unfortunately, but you still deserve one.