News From Far and Near

Ying this morning very weak. Brother curt and unreachable. Self counting the days.

Six. Six more days until she returns to California.

This morning, managed to chat with hubby on Yahoo messenger. He mentioned that he’d picked up two packages from the front porch yesterday. Self asked him to hold them up to the webcam so that she could see. The first one was wrapped in brown Manila paper, and almost every inch of its surface was covered with large stamps. “That must be from Fr. Bernad!” self exclaimed. The second package was her author copies of Field of Mirrors. She asked hubby to hold one of the copies up to the webcam. Oh, what a ravishing cover! Self can hardly wait to get home to read it.

This morning, Ying’s tiny hospital room was packed with people. Ying herself was on the bed, pale, covered up entirely in a blanket. She looked so tiny, almost like nothing. She looked up when self entered the room and smiled. But the prevailing mood in the room was of such tension and gloom that self felt she’d only be in the way. So, she took a bus back home. And, not five minutes after she’d sank down on the couch, the buzzer rang and it was her brother and nephew. And her brother talked of moving to another apartment, but he did not ask self if she was coming along and did not tell her what would happen to her. So self has decided that, when her brother moves, she’ll stay on here in Ruppin Street. Hopefully, the owner won’t come back until after self leaves. Hopefully.

After brother returned, self had to go out. She walked all the way down Ben Yehuda one way, then crossed the street and wended back. At 116 Ben Yehuda was a tiny used bookstore called Landsberger’s. She went inside. She asked the young man behind the sales desk if he had any books of Jewish painters. “Like Rubin,” she added. But the books he showed her were very tattered, with pages splotched with all manner of stains.

Then she asked him if he had any books of Israeli poetry. “By younger poets,” she said. “I mean, by poets who are still alive.” And he handed her about five or six books, including one by Yehuda Amichai. But self, still not satisfied, asked if he could find her a book by a young woman poet. And he handed her a copy of the Jerusalem Review, but this one was dated 1998. Then he handed her a book of poetry and plays by Lea Goldberg. And self would have bought it, except it was 79 shekels. And self saw that the publisher was an American press. So then self decided she could probably order it cheaper from Amazon.

Instead, self bought a big fat anthology called 50 Stories From Israel, published by Yedioth-Ahronoth and Chemed Books. The stories span the 1940s through the 1990s. The youngest contributors — Gafi Amir, Yossi Avni, Orly Castel-Bloom, Judith Katzir — were born in the 1960s. The oldest — Nissim Aloni, Hanoch Bartov, Yossl Birstein, Yehudit Hendel — were born in the 1920s. The first story, Nissim Aloni’s “To Be A Baker,” begins like this:

When the summer vacation came round, my mother wanted me to go and stay with my uncle who was a teacher in the village. In the village the train wound its way between eucalyptus groves, and through cracks in the hard-baked earth that lined the road to the vineyard, silvery snakes would dart out their heads in surprise. One could hear the laugh of the handsome lad who had drowned in the orchard pond, and the nights were heavy with the scent of jasmine.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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