Monday, April 18 2011
While recently down in Virginia the Subaru's fuel fill pipe sprung a leak, something which I took as something of an omen (to the extent someone as non-superstitious as me can regard anything as such). From the nature of the leak, it seemed to be coming from the bottom of the "trap" (a U-shaped undulation designed to catch water and dirt). By this point I was already counting on having to buy a new fill pipe, but yesterday I decided to take a final stab at fixing it. So I cleaned the pipe, mixed up some five minute epoxy, slathered it all along the bottom of the "trap," and then reinforced it with a piece of aluminum foil (which, which not much of a membrane, nevertheless helps to hold the epoxy in place as it hardens).
Today I had to run a few errands in town, so I took the Subaru partly to see if I'd fixed the leak. There was no way to know until I refueled it, which I needed to do (it was still running on that tank of gas I'd bought outside of Hershey, Pennsylvania). Happily (and somewhat surprisingly), my latest patch seemed to be holding. Usually entropy doesn't give up so easily, particularly in improvised car repair.
My main missions in town were to pick up a prescription for Gretchen, another one for Marie the cat (aka the Baby) and to get matzos for Passover. Gretchen had been unable to find any at Emmanuel's and was concerned that the entire matzos supply of the Hudson Valley had already been depleted. But I had no trouble finding any at Hannaford. At $1/box, King David matzos is much cheaper than Manischewitz, and it's actually made and packaged in Jerusalem.
Also while I was out, I got some plumbing bits for the brownhouse faucet system, the fuel oil tank in the garage, and the drainage system out in the parking area (all of which need fixes or modifications). I also got 500 feet of wire so I can rebuild an invisible fence to keep Eleanor from chasing cyclists, a nasty habit she has recently resumed.
Tonight was the first night of Passover, and, unlike last year, Gretchen had managed to track down a Seder for us to attend. It seems Bard College hosts one for its students and members of the community, and Gretchen had signed us up, along with our friend Deborah (who had never attended a Seder and wasn't even sure how to pronounce the word). The Seder was held in the faculty dining room and nearly everyone there, aside from the Bard rabbi, his family, and us, was a fresh-faced-or-horrifically-bepimpled Bard student. Deborah, Gretchen, and I sat at our own round table in the back. There was a bottle of grape joice, a bottle of Manischewitz wine, a stack of matzos, and a plate with the Seder symbols (including two non-vegan ones that we concealed beneath a napkin).
As Seders go, this was a fairly good one. The rabbi seemed like a fun guy. He skipped over most of the dull parts of the Haggadah, stopping here and there to encourage us to discuss issues with people at our respective tables. One such issue was, "What is a good question?" Another quandry that came up was "If matzos was said, in one part of the Haggadah, to be 'like the bread we ate as slaves in Egypt,' then why was it also said to be, in another place in the Haggadah, unleavened because of the hurry of the exodus?" I suppose anyone expecting consistency out of religious texts has to be prepared for a certain amount of cognitive dissonance.
Since the only wine at our table was Manischewitz, I found myself drinking the stuff. My god, is it awful! The cloying sweetness made me grimace with every swallow. The fact it survives is a marketing miracle that rivals anything in the Bible. It contains alcohol, but I'd rather drink vanilla extract (my preferred beverage for a few years back in college).
The Seder meal itself was served buffet-style. Sadly, the matzos ball soup was not-vegan. But there were a few things we could eat. There was a stuffed cabbage containing bulgur wheat that probably wasn't technically kosher for passover, but it was vegan (Deborah couldn't eat that or more than a token amount of matzos due to a wheat allergy).
After the meal, the rabbi resumed the seder with a virtual hunt for the afikoman. This was conducted as a trivia quiz, with each table acting as a team and, without being able to resort to Google, trying to guess the names of famous Jews in recent history. These ranged from Ayn Rand to Rahm Emmanuel. Our team, comprised only of Gretchen, Deborah, and me, proved formidable, answering eight of the ten questions correctly (the most of any team). ("No fair," someone at one of the other tables complained, "You're adults!") Our award was a seder plate made entirely of chocolate.
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