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Hi! Thank you for stopping by to watch me, Leah, cook kosher. I've been the owner operator of my boutique catering firm in Seattle, Leah's Catering, for the past 14 years.
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No Summer Vacation
Posted: July 17, 2011 By: Leah Jaffee

Apparently, it isn’t happening this year; I’ve made no plans to go anywhere. I’ve been to San Francisco, Acapulco, New York, and Bali in the past 15 months. I have no desire to travel. My catering schedule is lighter this summer with “the three weeks” being pushed into August. Traditionally, not a time for parties, I have an extended off-season. I’m enjoying time to decompress and not be crazy night and day. I like sleeping in until 8:30, I like staying up until 1:30 am. I still have a dinner here and there, a Kiddush now and then, but no brain straining logistically challenging major event….but soon. No, I’m enjoying the down time. I'm enjoying my family and friend time.

Lucrisia - Leah and family

Aviva is another story. She’s always gone to summer camp, twice out of state in the Midwest. Last year she toured Israel for 5 weeks with NCSY. This year her dad thinks she should get a job. It’s fairly challenging for a 16 year old competing with college graduates for low paying retail jobs. Harder still when one doesn’t work Friday nights, Saturdays. Summer sneaks up on me so I don’t seek out options for her. For Aviva, summer vacation is intermittent babysitting and general complaining while doing household chores.

We’ve had about 5 days of sunshine, hope, in the past 6 months. It is depressing, even hard core Seattlelites have low spirits. Aviva moans and groans and I tell her life could be worse. I tell her that some kids don’t even know what they are eating the next day! She stares with laughing eyes and a smirk. “Well, I guess I’m one of those kids, you aren’t even cooking!” But, I’m on vacation……. What’s wrong with protein bars, cereal, prepared sushi, roast chicken, easy steaks and fruit? I don’t even want to wash lettuce. Have another packaged cookie; I’m busy doing nothing!

Actually, it’s been a busy week and an emotional week. Last Sunday, watching “Midnight in Paris,” my mom insists she’s seen it before. I start to question her recollection until I remember her Alzheimer’s. Later, I ask Harvey if it is a remake; nope. Maybe it is because it is vintage Woody Allen to the point of weirdness. I watch as Owen Wilson mimics Woody Allen’s characteristic body movements, facial expressions and intonation. It works on a neurotic Jewish guy from NY. I’m buying it less from a successful blonde from Pasadena; get your own neurosis! Nice story but I base my attachment to living in the present on indoor plumbing, washers and dryers, and prepared sushi. Maybe one can romanticize living within the intellectual art community of Paris in the 1920’s IF one has the ego to imagine possessing the aptitude to fit in. With my luck, I’d be cranking out baguettes or sewing for the aristocracy. Aviva proclaimed the movie “just dumb”…so much for the summer vacation!

Lucrisia Sisters - playing around

Monday, we have a family meeting with a speech therapist and memory counselor about mom’s Alzheimer’s. In our case, family means that six of us kids, two brothers-in-law and one niece are present along with mom. We are mom’s support team and we get to voice our concerns, of which there are many. Mom, in brave fashion, declares that she is fine and going to beat this thing. The therapist tells mom that she is lucky to have such a large, caring family. It’s an emotional day. My brother is down from Bellingham, my sister from Friday Harbor, and another from Arlington. I feel lucky to have such a large, caring family.

Lucrisia Sisters - Dawn and Terri

While my mom’s kitchen is being remodeled, she is staying with my sisters. Moving from one to the other, I see her sparse wardrobe. My mother always has her antennae attune to the needs of others, reluctant to splurge on her own desires. On my way to visit her at sister Lani’s, I pull into the local mall and hit Macy’s. Despite our awaiting summer, season clearance is in progress. I’m in pursuit of new clothes for my mother. Rabbi Levitin always says that love is anticipating the needs of others. I like that definition. Harvey has spoken of the necessity of doing for others from the perspective of what the recipient needs; not our projection of what we think they need. This is my guiding principle of looking for polyester, elastic waist pants.

Shopping for my mother is easy. I grab a half a dozen pants in as many basic colors. She needs everyday clothes, items that are easy care. I used to be a buyer at Nordstrom and a fashion designer. Knowing my mother, it’s obvious when spotting her style. I definitely have to take one subtle animal print top. The excursion is emotionally taxing; I’m buying clothes for my mother just like I did for my kids. Her fading memory is an undercurrent in all my thoughts.

Mom puts on a great fashion show. She’s delighted with her new clothes, like a kid before the start of a new school year. She looks great. She offers to pay for them and I tell her not to worry, I used my debit card on her account. We laugh. I do give her the animal print top; it is so her.

Lucrisia Women Silly

A week ago, for my sister’s birthday, we are doing our usual clowning around. The whole ‘Supreme’ thing has been going on for so long some of us are reluctant to stop. We’re bonding more than ever; it’s the summer of love – anticipating the needs of my mother. I really don’t want to go anywhere.

 

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