As has been our recent habit, we spent the holiday with Ellen, which is always wonderful; her hospitality seems to be unending, her cooking divine, her conversation even better.
I brought a yummy carrot salad (spicy, not sweet), lots and lots of fruit, green salad with a non-vinegar dressing, Tofutti, wine, some pastries and a honey pot as a hostess gift. Ellen did the real work since she had power the week before and we didn't. She made Turkey, Sweet Noodle Kugel (which I found surprisingly tasty....normally I hate sweet kugels), fruit soup for one day and cold carrot soup for the next day, Brisket, Meatballs and, of course, several challot (not everything was served at the same meal)
Friday I left work around 1 or so, went home, ate some lunch and then went out for a gazillion errands, ran late, got home, frantically made fruit salad and carrot salad, cursed the fact that I'm too stupid to be able to use a melon baller correctly, yelled at my husband unnecessarily, apologized (I think), packed, and we were out the door loaded down with food and bags and flowers.
After we took care of unpacking everything at Ellen's, we headed to shul for Maariv (I believe we'd already missed Mincha). We arrived during the Rav's shiur, which was a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, I don't remember everything he talked about. Of course, he discussed some of the reasons behind not blowing the shofar on Shabbos.
He also addressed something which has been raised as an issue in a couple of communities on LJ: fasting. Someone had brought up that it was unreasonable that RH services were so long because fasting is forbidden on yom tov (fasting, halachically, means nothing to eat or drink by halachic mid-day...around 1pm or so). Since may not eat or drink before hearing the shofar, what is one to do if services run so late that halachically, you've fasted? After about 20 minutes of pontificating on the issue, the Rav gave a very simple answer. It is not forbidden to have plain water, so his recommendation was to have some water upon arising before coming to shul. Fair enough.
Friday after Maariv, we went to the Jacoby's house for dinner. The Jacobys have been been at the shul for quite some time and are both very learned. Yitzy (Ellen's son) learns with Danny Jacoby regularly, and Sima (Danny's wife) helps facilitate women's shiurim on a regular basis. We had a fabulous time at their house and, of course, ate wonderful food.
Saturday I woke up around 6 and I was planning on getting to services when they started at 7:30, but eventually chickened out. I knew it was going to be a long day and I didn't know how much I could handle. Ellen and I went at 8:30 or so. I'm not sure what time Seth and Yitzy made it there. There were maybe a dozen women on the women's side from the time we got there until the haftorah. By the end of the haftorah, the women's side was packed.
Lunch was at Ellen's. She had invited a new couple, Daschl (?), Rachel, and their baby, Faye. Daschl just finished law school and moved here to work for the government. Rachel is very quiet and I wasn't able to ascertain whether she was working or if she was staying home with Faye. I hate asking that sort of question. I don't mean it to seem like I judge either decision. (I, personally, aspire to be a stay at home mommy. But I also would want to maintain professional ties so that I could go back to work once all my kids were school-aged. Some people get touchy when the question is asked). Anyway, we liked them a lot, and they're about our age (slightly younger, actually), so we're looking forward to spending more time with them, hopefully soon.
For dinner Saturday night we went to dinner at a friend of Ellen's. She's very nice, and her cooking is beautiful (e.g. her presentation is always amazing), though sometimes I don't like the food itself...it's still pretty to look at. But Yitzy was in a bad mood because it was about a mile and a half walk to her house, he was tired, he was hungry, and he was being picked on. Ellen's friend sort of thinks that because she's older than me she's got all the answers to every problem I've ever had, and I don't especially appreciate that, but I'm trying to think good thoughts about her. She's an incredibly generous and well-intentioned person. I just don't like having my opinion discounted just because I'm younger. I also didn't enjoy being forced to eat a piece of fish head. I know it's tradition. But I gotta tell you, I really thought I was going to toss my cookies at the mere NOTION of taking a bite of a fish head. But that's just me. Anyway, it was a very late night and I thought that I would fall right to sleep the second we got back home.
No such luck. Seth, Yitzy and I played a game for a while, and eventually all went to bed around 1:30. Maybe later. And I couldn't sleep. At all. Not even a little bit. I tossed and turned all freaking night. So in the morning, I woke Ellen up around 7, woke Seth up around 7:30 and I went back to bed with a throbbing headache. Seth left around 8 or 8:30 I think. I'm not really sure. I tossed in bed a little longer until I couldn't take it any more. I stumbled out of bed absolutely positive that I'd missed all of shul and somewhat irritated with myself about it. But I looked at the clock and it was a quarter to 11. So, against my better judgment, I got dressed and went to shul. I made it in time for Musaf, so I did get to hear the final shofar blasts.
Also, almost at the end a young woman fainted on her way out of the sanctuary. I felt awful for her, but she was immediately swarmed by concerned ladies (and a few men that came over to see if she needed help...I think at least one of the men was a doctor)... I figured I was better off staying out of the way. She immediately had at least four (no joke) doctors taking care of her. I think she was overwhelmed, overheated, and probably dehydrated. She looked more upset at having caused a stir than anything else. Obviously she needn't have worried about that; we were just concerned for her welfare.
Lunch was again at Ellen's, this time with more people. I really enjoyed the company and the food was excellent. Lunch finished around 4 (it didn't start until after 2, remember), and at 5 we went to the creek for Tashlich. On the walk back to the house we met another couple and several of their children (they had 4 with them, but there were two more at home). They seemed really sweet. I can't remember the husband's name, but the wife's name was Naomi, and I look forward to getting to know her better. She can't be much older than I, but she has 6 kids. Wow. Of course, she got married when she was 20 and I didn't.
After Tashlich we killed some more time, chatted a bit amongst ourselves, didn't make it to shul, played some more games with Yitzy, and then made havdalah and WENT HOME!!! Home sweet home. Home to starving kitties (they weren't starving, they just thought they were). Home to a messy kitchen. Home to OUR BED. Home to cooler air conditioning. Home to no attention deficit 16 year olds. Home to no food in the refrigerator because of last week's power outage. Home sweet, sweet home! :)