Etti lowered her feet from the bed to the floor, slowly as usual. I was in the kitchen, following my routine, breakfast, grapefruit, whole wheat bread and cheese, listening to the news and reading my book, The black prince, by Iris Murdoch.
Mostly we walk for about 50 minutes, but sometimes we do something different. This was one of those times.
Today my wife would be driving to Tel Aviv. Nothing unusual in that, before we were hit by corona she made weekly trips to spend time with her cousin's twins, Alma and Jonathan.
Her firm hand at the wheel of our 12 year old Prius, we were on our way to carry out special assignments. The first was to deliver salty cheese, Alma's best snack, specially purchased in the Mahaneh Yehudah Produce and food market in Jerusalem.
Masks on our faces, covering both mouth and nose, we stopped at the corner of Beeri and Weizmann streets. I stretched my arm out of the window so that the smiling young girl could grab the container.
Mission accomplished we proceeded to our next, more complicated assignment; picking up a TV from Ettie's friend Carmela.
This required parking in the underground garage, donning masks and ascending by elevator, only two persons allowed, to avoid contamination, to the 2nd floor.
Masked, we sat on Carmela's balcony, festooned with trees in pots. I recognised one of these as a tree called Pride of India. My mother planted one of these in our garden, opposite her bedroom window. Each morning, particularly when the red flowers came out she turned her eyes towards the colorful plant before contemplating any other thing, like preparing tasty wheat porridge for her offspring.
Carmela's coffee tasted better than ours at home, but the beverage was the same brand. Etti said that, at home I concocted my own brew and here Carmela prepared it with love for me.
The ladies suggested I go inside to inspect the library. Perusing the shelf of all Dostoyevsky's books, I entered the world of suspicion. I suspected that there was something they didn’t want me to hear. I was too polite to ask what was the subject of discussion; secrets not for my ears.
On my way back to the balcony and the trees, my eye caught a painting, hanging in the passage, that appeared to be a mop of golden blond hair on an orange colored background.
What is this picture about, I asked myself, continuing to gaze at it. Then I perceived it so clearly, that I wondered at not grasping the scene before. This is a sure sign of a brilliant work of art.
The picture was of a girl, pouring over text, while sitting on a carpet, which has geometric shapes in between lines of orange, blue and cream..
Carmela had painted this after she had stared down from a platform, overlooking her daughter, bent in concentration over indistinct lines of print on white paper, while she stroked her smooth shining tresses, which fell over her back as she leaned over the subject matter.
Problem solved, ready to return to our car, the artist reminded us of the stated purpose of our visit, namely to pick up a TV set. She had a new model and was presenting us with this one which wasn't new but was more new than the one standing in our sitting room at home.
Now the time had come to deliver some passports for visas for some of Etti's clients, who were planning a trip. In this day and age, I thought, what's the point of travelling? On arrival in a country, one is quarantined. When one returns, again quarantine, making a total of one month quarantine. But I suppose people must make journeys no matter the burdens of Corona protection. While she was about it she also put in a visa application for herself and I. Perhaps we'll make an excursion when the virus scare is over.
We decided that it would be an excellent idea to meet Avishai, my son, who lives in Tel Aviv, for lunch. He waited for us in the beautiful park, in Saadya Gaon Str. opposite the building, where the company that arranges visas is situated.
But restaurants are closed, only take away is permitted. Sitting down to a meal is forbidden in our strange new world. Mission impossible; driving in traffic to a take away, searching for a spot for the car,waiting in line, back to the park to have our meal, find a parking space again
But I was hungry, food had to be found and a place to partake of our repast. The solution; stop in Azur, a village outside Israel's most congested city, on the way back to Jerusalem at Albert's steakhouse.
We ate in the car, a hot dog in a pita bread for me and grilled chicken livers for Ettie.
When, at last we turned to depart, my spouse put her hand in the cubby hole next to the driver seat to take out the alcohol wipes we use each time we return from anywhere outside our customary sphere.
Her hand found a plastic folder, instead of the wipes. Oh my God!! These were the passport photos we had taken before we departed from Jerusalem. They were meant to be attached to the passports we had delivered an hour earlier and 20 km behind us.
We had no option but to return to Tel Aviv, moving slowly through the congested city, grateful we hadn't gone all the way to Jerusalem before discovering our blunder. With a sigh and a laugh at our stupidity, we dropped off the photos to be attached. All's well that ends well.
Once again we started our return to Jerusalem, this time more slowly than before because of peak hour traffic.
Now I remain with the problem of where to place our second, newer TV.