In the end, Hagai showed up last night -- the alert was reduced and some of the soldiers were allowed off base, so he came home for the night, and will be back for Shabbat.
I was waiting for him to come home and bring his library books so that we could return them to the library. My older kids were all voracious readers, the combination of having a house full of books, parents who read and no engaging TV for most of the day (from the early '90s, we did have a television, but it only got Israel's channel 1 with some afternoon children's stuff and, until Hezbollah kicked the Christians out of South Lebananon, the South Lebanon Christian station that had some cute and educational afternoon shows (I fondly remember Swiss Family Robinson, a series that helped me keep my sanity through the 1990 Gulf War).
Up until my older son was about 9, we used to go to the Safed Community Center library so that the kids could pick out books, but the selection was poor and what was there was often in terrible shape -- how could you encourage your kid to read when the books were missing pages?
We moved to the Rosh Pinna library and for many years I would pack up the gang once every 2 weeks and we'd head to the library for our fix. The selection was excellent, the books were in terrific shape (thanks to a tough librarian who checked each book before refiling it) and I grew to really enjoy the outing, though scheduling the trip was challenging.
Through out years at the library the kids' interests and tastes changed, the librarian's mother -- who used to help her daughter at the library -- aged and became senile and I went through a separation and divorce. Yet every 2 weeks we continued to meet and catch each other up on our lives.
I found myself without a car at about the same time that my youngest reader no longer needed my chauffeur services and my youngest daughter was simply a confirmed non-reader, so everything worked out pretty well. I missed my bi-weekly chats with the librarian, but there wasn't anything much to do about it.
When my older daughter left to live in Miami, she left us her car, and my son recently began to visit the library to get some books for his "relaxation times" on the base. I encouraged it, though once again I'm responsible for his delays in returning his books -- this time, the delays are a bit more serious because there are times that he doesn't come home for weeks at a time.
The librarian called to remind us about some long-overdue books so I'll take my son to the bus stop in Rosh Pinna today and return the books to the library. History repeats.
I personally use the English Library in Safed and rely on its services -- don't know what my life would have been like if I didn't have it to count on. And I don't know what my kids' lives would have been like if they didn't have a quality library at their disposal, and a mother who made sure that they used it. One more thing that we take for granted, but shouldn't.