Wednesday, 6 October 2010

East Coast trip Part 2: Baltimore

Chani in her stroller
One thing I didn't mention in my Cleveland post was the pink hair. My hair had grown a bit since the extremely bad colour I had done in Berkeley, and now the roots were just pink, rather than mauve or orange. Ben,  who is nearly 6 ft tall and can see the top of my head, informed me that if I could actually see the state of the colour, I'd certainly want to do something about it, so with help from Aunt Flo I found a hairdresser open on Sunday who was able to repair most of the colour damage, bringing the roots back to the same colour as most of the rest of my hair, and also "fixed" the cut, which she said was way longer one side than the other and lacked the structure it needs at the back to encourage the curl. So I felt I was fit to go out in the world again, though in my brother's world, women keep their hair covered so mere exposure is the outrage, not whether it is pink!

The SouthWest airlines flight I took from Cleveland to Baltimore on a Monday was an Embraer, a small jet made in Brazil. It was not very full, and was very cheap at under $60 including all charges and taxes (and checked bags fly free, very rare in the US).  I never feel totally relaxed on these little planes, though I have not checked their safety record against that of larger planes, but it landed early and safely and my brother Yaacov picked me up. He and Miriam had to attend a funeral that afternoon, so I stayed home, unpacked the few things I needed for the couple of nights I was staying, logged in to their wireless network, and caught up on my email.
Esther, Leah and a bit of Shifra
Sarah,  Feigie and Shifra
After they got home and we had a snack, Miriam and I started making honey cakes for Succot, when the older grandchildren who are off at various yeshivot around the country will be coming home.  That evening was the only one that worked to go out to dinner with Esther's family, as there were Parent-Teacher meetings and other commitments on the next night. The cakes were still in the oven, so Miriam stayed home to take them out when done, while Yaacov and I proceeded to meet Esther, Dovid and the kids at the Royal, the extremely kosher Iranian-run restaurant which offers Chinese and "American" food,  where we go for our now regular family dinner.  Miriam was planning to catch the late shift at the JCC pool, so wasn't going to eat with us anyway, but she joined us at the restaurant a bit later.  This was my first opportunity to meet Chani (see her in her stroller above- that is not a halo!) , Esther and Dovid's newest baby, their eighth. Their two oldest boys, young men by now, are away at Yeshiva in New York, and I haven't seen them for ages. The last three girls all look very much alike (see Chani, Leah and Shifra in the photos), and like all the children, they are very calm and quiet and really look after each other. We all ate very well, and there were lots of leftovers for Esther and Dovid to take home, as the servings are large and the kids are not such big eaters. I am delighted to be able to give Esther a couple of night off from cooking, which must become quite onerous with such a big family.

Yosef Moshe
Miriam and I swam together at the JCC during the Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon women only shifts: the pool was not very busy, especially on Wednesday when I had a lane to myself for nearly the whole hour. As I belong to the JCC in Berkeley, it is excellent that the JCC here as well as in NYC offers reciprocal rights to use their facilities for a few days.  It is a 25 yard pool, where I have to be careful as I run out of pool because in Melbourne I swim in  25 or 50 metre pools - especially when swimming backstroke,   I have been known to smash my head into the end of the pool if I am in the meditative state I often get into around the middle of my laps. 

On Tuesday morning I had gone for a very  long walk - I had intended to take a long one,  but took a wrong turn - so as well as the couple of kilometres I swam, I also walked close to 10 km. All of this may help burn off some of the delicious food I over-indulged in during the trip to Cleveland! That afternoon after school I spent time at Esther's with the littlest kids - the older ones were still at school.   Leah has just started kindergarten, and was home asleep on the sofa when we came in. For the first time ever I heard her crying when she woke up, and I observed Esther working with her quietly and calmly to find out what was wrong.  Turns out she was over-tired and needed to go to bed for a bit.  I am very impressed with how wonderful Esther is with her kids, and how calm they all seem to be in response. The baby is very cute and about to start crawling: I took some videos but I am only posting one here.

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