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by Frances Brent

Cleaning House

Israeli Novelist Turns to Memoir

My husband’s grandmother, so the family story goes, carried a dust cloth over her shoulder at all times. When the phone rang she would dust her way, from wherever she happened to be, making a resolute path to the telephone table at the farthest end of the apartment. Invariably when she picked up the receiver, the line was dead. “Misteam anti-Zzzzzemite!” she’d sputter. My own grandmother showed me once how to dust a table. The task began with lifting a lamp off the table, unscrewing the finial, removing the lamp shade, dusting lamp and shade separately, putting them back together, screwing down the finial, placing the lamp “gently” on the floor, lifting the table off the rug, “getting underneath…” It was exhausting!

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