The past while has been a bit rough for me. For us. I've been feeling for a few weeks that I really need a break - time to just freeze, to stop, anything to let me take a break from everything that's swirling and to just sit. To think. To write. To relax. To take care of all the stuff that's overwhelming me. To talk to some friends I've really wanted to talk to for a while. To plan a bunch of things that need planning. To just... I don't really know. Just a break.
A lot of this kind of culminated on Thursday and Friday a couple weeks ago, as some - if not many - of you know. In truth, none of it was a big deal, but at the time, it sure felt like it. We enjoy having lots of guests here at SerandEz, and this Shabbos was to be no exception. We had three wonderful young women staying here for Shabbos, two couples with their cute kids Friday night, and a number of other guests Shabbos day [even one without a blog!]. But by the time we got all our groceries Thursday evening, planned our menus, and got ready to start cooking, it was rather late. Serach ran out to get a few things we'd forgotten, and as I checked on the food in the oven, I noticed that the broccoli kugel looked like it hadn't gotten cooked at all. More importantly, there was no heat. My father-in-law was staying the night so he didn't have to drive too much (he has a very long commute in general), so he tried to fix it... but couldn't figure it out. He came to the same conclusions I had [except he knows a lot more], so we were pretty stuck. I decided I'd take off the next day, because we wouldn't be able to make Shabbos without an oven and I really had a few other things to take care of anyway.
The next morning, I dropped Elianna off at the babysitter. As I did so, I noticed that the right side of the car was scraped horribly; the area by the right front tire banged in a bit. This is a car we just leased three months ago... our first car. Upset, I called Serach, who recently got her license, thinking it must have been her; she insisted she hadn't sideswiped anybody, though that's what it looked like (and on the right side, it's hard for it to be anything else). I assumed that she simply still was a bit nervous, sideswiped someone, somehow not realized it... Ugh. What a mess. I went and got a haircut, which I'd needed for a while, and that helped me calm down a bit; around then Serach texted me that she'd been parked on a one-way, and that when she told her co-worker about the car, the co-worker had noted that the same exact thing had happened to her. And they'd been parked next to each other... and on a one-way street. Nice little lesson in dan l'kaf zchus, particularly about one's wife, eh?
Well, I received my payback rather quickly. As I started to back my car into a driveway across from our apartment, being that it's a rather thin street, I was worried about nicking a car on my own side of the street with the front of the car. Being annoyed and upset about my own car wasn't helping with concentration. A second later, I felt a huge *SMASH* as I nailed the back corner of an SUV's bumper right in, denting it badly. (It was parked with the back just next to the driveway. Distraught, and with an Israeli neighbor misunderstanding that I was trying to park so I could see the extent of the damage and leave a note and not drive away, I finally pulled my car into a spot. I'd made a nice dimple on the Murano... ugh. I went upstairs, wrote a note, stuck it in his window, and went out to take care of some more stuff. Thankfully, our cleaning lady showed up and was doing her usual incredible job [cleaning ladies are worthwhile for families where both spouses work, particularly when they have lots of guests!], so I grabbed a bunch of stuff that needed toveling and took it to the mikveh nearby. I only lost one small cheap pan in the process; the netting that looks like it catches large objects in fact is two nets, split in two. Ah well.
Meanwhile, my superintendent had previously informed me that he didn't figure out what the problem with the oven was yet, but he had one idea to try. He then disappeared for a couple hours, so I called and gently reminded him that this was pretty important, especially as who knew what could be going on with gas (though it seemed okay). He came back, checked it again, and kindly informed me that this was beyond him, and we likely needed a new starter ignition, but he couldn't do that. Translation: You better find someone else's oven to cook in, quick. This was at about 1:15pm, and I had at least prepared some of the food, but time was quickly becoming scarce.
This is where amazing friends come in... especially when they live nearby. I'd e-mailed RaggedyMom about the possible use of an oven; she'd informed me hers was available... and that another friend a couple of doors down had offered the use of hers as well. As had our non-blogging daytime guest. Meanwhile, Serach was stuck in school due to a suspected gas leak kicking them all out of the building... leaving her bag (and her ride's bag/keys/etc.) inside. When she finally returned, she helped me take over the chickens to the neighbors nearby, then she and our other guests who were arriving helped with everything else - from taking food to neighbors to cleaning up to setting up and then setting the table to taking care of Elianna, whom Serach picked up with a couple of them.
I think that perhaps the most ironic part of it all was as I was making the last few things to be brought to our non-blogging guest (from now on Sabra), Chana remarked "Wow, this is so nice!" I looked at her questioningly and she explained, "It's so calm here today. Normally it's kind of hectic, but this week... you guys are so calm, it's so quiet, not much is going on... it's so nice." Here, I'm thinking it's such a crazy day and week, but to some extent, she was right, too. It was rather calm (until the final rush to get the food from the neighbors and bring it back without burning ourselves). It was nice. And Shabbos... Shabbos was amazing.
Good neighbors, wonderful guests - good friends - they are all truly amazing. Thanks, all.