with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Storming the Beach

Well, the storm is still on, but much of the thunder and lightning has died down. I met Maureen at 6:30 for our morning walk and I actually got rained on for all of the ten minutes it took me to get to Gordon and Dizengoff from our apartment near Kikkar Rabin (Rabin Square). I took our big golf umbrella with me so it would cover both of us while walking the beach, but I didn’t need it as the rain stopped 30 seconds before Maureen arrived. Damn. I love walking in the rain.

Without tourists or money to replenish the sand on the Tel Aviv public beaches over the past few years, the storms have pulled much of the beach out and the water is lapping at the guard towers as the beach shrinks. The waves crashing on the breakers and the beach in the early morning sunrise storm light was absolutely breathtaking, bringing the water almost up to the Tiyalet (boardwalk) in places. We could feel the salty spray on our faces as we walked. Marvelous. I waved out across the pounding surf towards Greece, Spain, Italy and the like in the extreme invisible distance to my mother floating out and about on a cruise ship. I hate it that she is so close and I can’t see her.

We walked down as far as the Dolphinarium, famous for being the sight of more than 20 young teenagers, mostly Russian, who died in a horrible terrorist bombing three years ago. Within a month of the massive destruction, the disco was open for business. It was okay for a short time, but fear from other terrorist attacks swept through the wild youth community, and now they tend to drift into smaller clubs, avoiding the big body mashing scenes that attract terrorists into their crowded midsts. The club closed not long after. It was the hot spot on the beat at night for many years. We turned back before we reached the memorial to the lost children, a memorial that began as an impromptu placing of flowers, stuffed animals, toys, and other memorabilia. Over the past three years, I’ve watched it grow from fresh flowers, pictures and toys to sun bleached pictures and toys adorned with plastic flowers, to the cement monument and plaque that hosts only a few dried out flowers from the people who still stop by to remember. There are memorials just like this all over Tel Aviv and Israel. To remember the innocent who died in a war that isn’t a war, according to the rest of the world.

The joggers and walkers were not out in force, but the regulars were there. You see the same faces and T-shirt and short shrouded bodies over and over again three or four times a week, they feel like family even though you’ve never met. Along the Tiyalet is the only place I walk in Tel Aviv and people will willingly smile at me. I get no smiles anywhere else. You would think that they don’t smile because there is nothing to smile about. Not true. They are just not smiling-at-strangers people here. They save their laughter and smiles, of which there is a lot, when among friends and family. I think one of the reasons Israelis are so loud when talking to each other is that they store up all that energy for when they are together and it literally bursts out of them.

On the way back up Gordon, we spotted a beautiful white and tiger-spotted kitty sitting in the middle of wind-blown trash, in between the rungs of a smashed up chair. She was cleaning herself in that sitting-proud position, completely focused on the cleansing process. She was sparkling in the middle of the refuse, so I know she is a loved and fed kitty, probably attended to by nearby residents, and she had the look of a cat who sleeps inside at night, but she wasn’t interested in USA, just her cleaning routine. Adorable.

I made it home, exhausted, but fell right into finishing the web site and uploading it. While the computer whirled and clicked, I realized I hadn’t had breakfast, so I fixed some tuna salad and turned on the VCR to see what Oprah had done while I was out walking. What luck! I had recorded the show where she did a rare interview with Barbara Striesand talking about her new album, The Movie Album, and she actually sang in person. According to Oprah’s production staff, this is the first time Barbara has sung during a day-time program since her appearance on the Mike Douglas show in something like 1963 or 1965. She only performs at night in concert, when she rarely performs in public. So it was a treat to see and hear her. What a voice. The song she sang from the new album, Smile, is one that she dedicated to her dog, Sam, who she had to put to sleep while recording the album. At nine years old, he was dying from cancer and it broke her heart. She thought about him the whole time she was recording the song, so she dedicated the song to him. While singing on Oprah, they showed pictures of her and Sam in the background. It broke my heart, this being the one month anniversary of our loss of our fuzzy lover, Dahni. Tears don’t come as often now, but it still doesn’t take much to set them off. What a very touching thing for her to do and a great public example of the love and care and respect we need to have for our furry loved ones.

I did some more work and then headed out to pick up Maureen and we headed out for our ritual trip to Half Price, a fantastic, huge American-style grocery store out by Rishon Le Zion. I bought a month’s worth of food supplies, stocking up. Like some numb idiot, I wandered into the pet food section, and then cursed my self as emotions brimmed over. I stopped, took a deep breath, dealt with the feelings, and then moved on. What else can I do. Then we went for a quick run over to the stores for the employees of Israel Aircraft Industries. The prices for a lot of household appliances and items are fairly inexpensive. I bought a portable heater unit for Ruth (she asked me to), and some new house slipper for Brent, and a few other odds and ends. Maureen loves exploring all these places, but we were both exhausted, so after an hour we were back in the car and heading home.

Tomorrow I hit the book again, locking the doors and bolting the windows. The next trip out of the house is Thursday morning for an early morning walk and then Friday to meet with Maureen and Ruth in the afternoon at Ruth’s office to help her with her office remodel job. The rest of the time I’m hand-cuffed to the computer and WordPerfect, working on the book.

Tel Aviv, Israel

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