no smoking

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my very temporary room

Throughout the history of man, we have seen cruelty and insensitivity. Man has killed his fellow man, cheated and robbed him, enslaved him, and tortured him. And at times it’s not been individuals who made life miserable for others. Sometimes it’s been whole nations, or a society as a whole that has made it a living hell for some minority… or rival group of human beings. This has happened so often, that we have managed to forget some really outstanding atrocities, simply because there were others that happened afterwards.

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a garden in the city

Of course, there have been almost as many explanations for the phenomenon as there have been incidents of man’s cruelty to man. Most of us realize that we have both tendencies… empathy and compassion on the one hand, and cruelty on the other. In my generation, we had two major examples of cruelty. They were the Soviet Union and communism as they practiced it, and Nazi Germany, and the fascist governments that emerged at about the same time. We saw extreme ideology as a threat to peace and freedom. But in the wake of the defeat of Nazism, we saw the rise of single minded capitalism, and so many sensitive and liberal souls started pointing out capitalism as the source of all evil. Of course, there was always prejudice and racism. The Nazis were for it. The Communists were against. And the capitalists didn’t care that much… as long as it didn’t interfere with business.

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a very tasty pear

The present day generation sees the church, and western religion as the villain of today’s society. You know, they promise us heaven, but those priests abuse little boys sexually. They’re hoarding money in their basements. They tell us what to do, but enjoy themselves far too much. And there are so many fakers around. The Reverend Moon is just an example. You can find the most bizarre madmen among the religious. I’ve given a lot of thought to this issue. Because I personally, have suffered cruelty. I wanted to understand it. Looking back, just over two hundred years ago, we saw one of the most enlightened revolutions in the history of man. That was the French Revolution… which brought to the fore ‘the rights of man’, reflected in their mantra: ‘liberty, equality, and fraternity’. Prisoners were released from jails, the religious institutions were limited and much of their property confiscated, and the piggy rich and royals were demoted from their high bred social advantages. But within a relatively short period of time, even that beacon of light turned into a reign of terror, resulting in rampant executions and political intrigue. The guillotine became the symbol of the failure of that revolution.

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the street where I live

So what are we to make of all of this. Is it really the good guys against the bad guys? If we were to study history together, I would point out that the Chinese had their excesses too during the cultural revolution, and that, on the other hand… the Germans contributed greatly to thought, science, and judicial propriety before the Nazis gave them a bad name. And we could discuss the history of the protestant movement within Christianity, and the different stages of Moslem development, and how it interacted with neighboring religions. Not to speak of the fact that as a Jew, I have access to a very lengthy history, for we are an ancient people and there is much to learn from our own history.

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you have to search for the grass

I have come to believe that it isn’t the good guys versus the bad guys. It seems to me that both good and bad are part of our personality. I see human beings as a herd animal… and most of us want to be in the middle of the herd. I see us as being selfish and intolerant of differences… even of different practices or customs. Just as we have many positive and beautiful personality traits, we have some very negative ones that are both injurious to our neighbors and self destructive to ourselves. Usually, our attitude and behavior affect others very similarly to the way they influence ourselves. And so the biblical injunction to love our neighbor as we do ourselves is not surprising. Actually it might have been enough to tell us to love ourselves. But it is even clearer and more obvious when we are asked to love our neighbors. Among our worst traits are insensitivity, hostility, and self righteousness. This last quality is usually fostered by egocentricity, which in itself is an infantile behavior characteristic.

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bicycle rider

Think about self righteousness, and you can understand the behavior of the worst of the communists, the religious, as well as xenophobic nationalists, and many of the common hate groups within society. But this quality doesn’t always appear in its most radical form. Look around you and observe the way smokers have been persecuted in recent years. Is this the worst of possible sins? Are those who have forced smokers out of buildings to freeze in the cold of winter, without sin? How long will it take before there will be similar programs to force people to lose weight? There was a time when you couldn’t sit in certain restaurants without a tie around your neck. And then it seemed that the chimes of freedom were heard. And now, here we are again, dictating to our fellow citizens what is the right way to live and what is not. Woe to the eccentric who doesn’t want to inoculate his children with the many varied shots that are now considered mandatory for good health.

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the smoking evidence

And why have I raised this topic today? Well, my new landlord, in my most recent temporary apartment back in Jerusalem, objected to my smoking in his house. You could have knocked me over with a wet noodle when I heard that. As I mentioned when I first moved in here, my present home is not a luxurious palace, exactly. Though highly priced, the accommodations were very modest. Were I the complaining type, I could have made a long list of everything that was wrong about this place. From the dirty windows, to the dusty curtains, to the chairs that come apart to the door that doesn’t close properly… But I respect my fellow man, and immediately went looking around for other housing. And it looks like the next blog post will come from some other quarter. The pictures in this post are of my present temporary room and the neighborhood around it. Here I go again.

89 responses to “no smoking

  1. Oh dear Shimon, what should I say now, maybe you will get angry with me but why don’t you stop smoking :) Please…. Please….
    Photographs, especially the pear with glass plate fascinated me and another one, searching grass hit me… I love your camera and more than this your written pieces… Thank you, Blessing and Happiness, love, nia

    • My dear Nia, what you say doesn’t make me angry at all. But it is this sort of harassment that encourages me to keep smoking. I believe that every person has the right to choose his private pleasures or sins. And I very seriously resent being pushed around. Thank you very much for your appreciation of the pear, and for my writing. And special thanks for your blessings. My best to you.

  2. Oh, Shimon, you are becoming a nomad. Having been a smoker, I understand your sense of indignation. The problem is ex-smokers are absolutely the most intolerant of other people’s smoke. I don’t know whether it is the residue of addiction that makes us like this. But I swear I can smell someone smoking a whole field away, and it instantly makes me unreasonable, and wanting to yell ‘stop it at once’. If I have been near someone smoking, I can smell it on my clothes. Yet I never had this hypersensitivity when I smoked. Far from it. All of which is very interesting. Have you thought of giving up?

    • Yes indeed, Tish. I am becoming a nomad. Wandering from place to place. I’m losing the security of having my own base in this world. And yes, I’ve noticed that new converts, and reformed criminals of all sorts have the greatest tendency towards fanaticism. To quote Mark Twain, I have given up smoking on a number of occasions. But in my case, I always continued to have a smoke just now and then… because of affection for the activity. You might call it a hobby… you might call it choosing sides… The last time I quit, I was quite religious about having three cigarettes a day… Thanks for your comment.

  3. Oh no! What shame that you have to move again….but the positive may be that you get better lodgings, maybe a room with a comfortable armchair, those hard seats can’t be comfortable to sit on for any length of time.
    The thing that people forget about smoking is that it is actually legal, hence why shouldn’t a person smoke, to me it’s a personal choice. I was constantly hounded when I smoked and made a decision NEVER to make a person feel the way I used to feel. You enjoy your smokes Shimon.
    I agree what you say about people having good and bad in them….we just have to make an effort to control the negative, but a lot of people don’t. I also believe that some are literally born wicked, but most of us aren’t. I’m always amazed that man can live peacefully with his fellow man anywhere…. I suppose man’s struggles against man are ultimately about one type of power or other at there base, and control.
    Some lovely pics here, I forgot to say that I loved that pic in another of your posts showing the bird in the window.
    Good luck with your house hunting….I’ll send good vibes that you find the perfect place….if not, jump on a plane and come and stay with us!!!! You can smoke here!!! xxx

    • Yes, it is difficult having to move again. I have already found another temporary apartment. It is quite different, but it too has its little faults. I do have a nice little garden outside though. Still, today it seems too cold to sit outside. It doesn’t surprise me, Dina, that you have compassion for smokers. That’s just the way I imagine you. As for some being born wicked… that’s something I’ve wondered about for quite some time. Don’t really have an answer on that yet. There’s certainly reasons to think that some are born saints and some are born wicked… but I like to believe we have choice. I would love to stay with you wonderful people, if only it was around the corner. Thanks for the offer though. It warms my heart.

  4. P.s, you are the image of my father in that last pic!xxx

  5. A nicely balanced post. There has been tremendous turmoil, pain and horror inflicted on millions of people for the benefit of a few over the centuries and in living memory. The figures of the numbers of dead in China during Mao’s famine, (not including his other wheezes) has been academically researched and found to be in the region of 36 million people, and I would guess more, as records were not as precise as the Nazi records.

    In respect of smokers, I understand the impositions that we place on our fellow human beings can be irksome; I grew up with a smoker and have never smoked myself. I won’t go into the passive smoking and ash in places where you would not want to find it. When it got too costly to buy a packet of fags with the first increase, the smoker stopped without any reduction programme…just stopped. It was amazing. Then the smoker started up again for a few years, till the taxation levels were just too much for the smoker to wish to pay. Again, the smoker stopped, just like the first time, and never smoked after that. As a result,other pleasures became more affordable.

    I do understand why this person smoked, it started in war time, working in the munitions factories at night, walking home alone in the dark, the only friendly light was that of the cigarette. I have no doubt, that the cigarette also performed other more alopathic functions at that time and again, later on. Nevertheless, experiencing it in the domestic and social environment did not improve my health and well-being and was an aversion therapy.

    I do hope you find somewhere where you can relax. X

    • Thanks for your comment. Menhir, and the description of your personal experience with a smoker, and the affects on you. Actually, I have gotten to know smoking from many different perspectives, and perhaps I’ll write about that sometime. I feel that the campaign against smoking has become unreasonable, but perhaps the cigarette companies deserve what they got. Many of the same criticisms could be aimed at Cola… but tobacco has already experienced a similar attack many years ago when people chewed tobacco The campaign managed to wipe out the use of chewing tobacco, but the ‘scourge’ came back in another incarnation. It’s very interesting for me to read of your ‘aversion therapy’ because I experienced exactly the opposite. And there is a good chance that I am a smoker today because of that. But that’s what often happens… we each experience certain exposures differently. Thanks again for your good wishes. x

  6. I got to hate being a nomad, and not having anywhere to call home. Now we’re retired and in our own place (well, it’s not ours entirely) we are both so enjoying it and love coming home, and no longer care much for being away! So this is what it’s like to have a proper home … I hope yours is ready very soon.

    — as for smoking, what can I say? We all have our foibles ;)

    • Well, I keep in mind that this is only a very short introductory course to being a nomad. I know that if it lasted years, I would appreciate greater depths, and much more wisdom than this course provides. But it has opened up some windows and doors… I have learned a lot from the experience already. I am very happy for you and your dear mate, deacon, that you have reached the point where you have your own home and are enjoying it. That too can provide a wonderful state of mind. Though the pleasure is so great, that many people get lost in the details, and start taking the pleasure for granted. And it has occurred to me, that maybe I too have sinned in this way, and so deserved to move from place to place for a while, to teach me what I forgot. Thanks too, for your reaction to my story about smoking. I very much like the way you related to it.

  7. Your paragraph about the good and bad side of humans is outstanding. Meanwhile, i hope you can find a place which makes you feel comfortable.

  8. Oh, dear, I am so sorry that the hassle of moving has come your way again. I know you live modestly, Shimon, but the upheaval necessitated by relocating ourselves and our things requires effort and readjustment nonetheless…Bother!

    On the other hand, I admire your search for a home that meets your needs. As Winnie the Pooh said, “Home is the comfiest place to be.” Sending love and a prayer that will happen for you soon. I love the photos, especially the pear and that lovely beam of light…

    I guess we all run on different fuel and at different times, to be true to who we are…

    Peace in the search for home.

    • Fortunately, I can already report that I am resituated in a new apartment, that is better in certain ways, though it also has some new disadvantages. This is really a learning experience. And I’m trying to appreciate the learning. I am in the next neighborhood over from where I was before, and have gained a little garden. But the winter weather isn’t allowing me to enjoy it yet. Right now, I am listening to some very good music, and trying to catch up to all my obligations while also putting my new place in order. Thank you for your kind words, Kitty, and for your mention of being true to whom we are. That is certainly one of the more important issues in this life.

  9. I know a little bit of the nomad life that is yours at present and hope you get to your own place soon. And if smoking is your sin…there are so many worse things you could do….

    • My dear friend, I thank you for your understanding. I have to say, that I’m not really a righteous man, and I’ve had much worse sins in my youth. But as I grew old, and got worn down a bit from the excitements of life, my sins decreased so much, that I jealously hold on to any old sin I’m still able to perform. And so, even if it’s a smoke or a glass of whisky, or laughing at the downfall of an enemy… I’m not about to give it up.

  10. I so look forward to these Friday posts, Shimon, your eloquent writing, wonderful photography and especially, this week, the shot of you smoking. So sorry that you have to move again, and while I might try to convince you to stop smoking, I won’t. It’s your right to do so. Thank you for the wonderful post.
    Cathy

    • I really appreciate your comment, Cathy. And of course, I would listen to you patiently if you tried to convince me to stop smoking. But as you can imagine, I’ve already heard a lot of very good arguments… some of them from beloved students. What brings me great happiness, is that when two of my sons visit me, they always ask for a cigarette too, even though they are non smokers, and have a smoke with me. It is that sort of solidarity that brings a wide smile to this old face that has seen so much in life. Thanks.

  11. Shimon, sorry you have to move again and I hope you find a place you can call home soon… enjoy your smoke! :-)
    Matt

    • Thinking about it was much worse than actually doing it. I have some very good friends, who actually moved my belongings in about an hour and a half. O am already at the new place, and trying to get settled in. Thanks Matt. Appreciate your good wishes.

  12. We all have our opinions… Shimon, and you are so right about losing our freedom to do this and that. Above all I wish for you peace in the midst of all circumstances and a home to smoke as you want. I too am a non smoker, But I like chocolate and have a few pounds to lose. My husband is a smoker and I can’t relate but I will not hound him about it …

    • I really like your attitude, Roberta… and that’s the way I relate to a lot of things in this world and among friends. I have friends with different political views, different choices in entertainment, and often temptations very different from what interest me. And even so, because of the things we do have in common, and the beauty of humanity, I am able to find the strength to tolerate others’ failure. When it comes to smoking, I’m not even sure it’s a failure. Anything can be taken to excess. Even eating. But we wouldn’t outlaw eating because some people eat too much. Thank you very much for your comment.

  13. You’re moving again, Shimon? Oh! I am so sorry! Again, your post is an offering for all of us to consider…there are always so many layers of wonderful stuff in your posts! So grateful that I have the freedom to read…bless you on your new journey and yes! Take photographs!

    • Thank you so much for your blessing, Kathleen. The whole story made me unhappy, but as soon as I found a new place, I thought it might have been a blessing in disguise. I wanted to photograph the new place (which is very small), but we’ve been having rain and cold… so I haven’t gotten the inspiration yet. But I’m sure it’ll happen one of these days. And I thank you for your visits with me. I like to read your blog too, though lately I’ve been somewhat distracted by what’s going on in my life.

  14. I am very sorry that your new home hasn’t worked out for you. It seems a bit hypocritical on the part of your landlord. given the fact that the place is not really up to scratch. I sincerely hope that you find something better and more to your liking with the freedom to smoke and be yourself. Best of luck and big hugs.

    As for the cruelty of man, I’d better no go into it or I’ll never finish. Will we ever learn?

    • I too think that my landlord was a hypocrite, though he was actually a very affable person in the flesh. As a matter of fact, I think he was motivated to do this after he heard some criticism on my part about the way he kept up the house. But meantime, I’ve already moved into a much cleaner place. So I didn’t really lose out on the experience. Thank you very much for your sweet comment, Fatima. Always very good to hear from you.

  15. Nice to see you in full length, I was beginning to think you didn’t have any legs!
    A new law has just been passed hedre to make it illegal to smoke in a car when children under 16 are in the car. Only very ignorant smokers would do such a thing anyway. So we legislate to make people considerate. Some MPs want to make it illegal to smoke in home that contains children. How they are going to police that one is anybody’s guess.

    Further, if your car / van is a company vehicle, then you must not smoke in it as it is considered as part of your place of work. AND you must display a no smoking sign! There was recent case of a butcher, a non smoker, who never takes passengers in his small delivery van was stopped and found to not have a sign displayed. He was fined £250. Had he been caught smoking in the vehicle, he would have beern fined only £50.

    • Your comment, Bill has caused me the greatest difficulty of all the comments I’ve received so far on this post. As you might know, I’m not a native English speaker, and I just can’t figure out whether your comment was tongue in cheek, or whether you actually meant it when you said, “Only very ignorant smokers would do such a thing anyway”. You were speaking of smoking in a car where children under the age of 16 are present. Having read your articles, and been impressed that you are a serious thinker, I can’t really understand why you would choose to insult smokers. For what you said is an insult and not an observation. Certainly you know, that there are very educated people among the criminal population, as well learned individuals to perform all kinds of foul behavior in front of their children, leaving them sometimes, traumatized for life. Oh, could we ever count the number of educated and wise men who have succumbed to corruption and drunkenness, and misdemeanors… even violence in the full view of their children. Not to speak of those who have risked the lives of their children by reckless driving, and have numerous citations… should we take away their license to drive or their children? And since, in your very last post you hailed the artist who painted an illegal and subversive message on the wall of another citizen, I can’t help but wonder if you were trying to tease me here. And if so, I thank you for the challenge. Just don’t tell the cops I smoke in front of babies with careless disregard.

      • Hi Shimmon, sorry for the late reply, I’ve been away. I am truly sorry if my comments upset you. I was being nothing but humorous.

        The only serious thing I was trying to convey was that it is no use legislating in areas of human stupidity. Especially with some of the stuff I have done im life.

        If I insult smokers, then I insult myself too. I certainly wouldn’t want to insult you.

        • Thank you very much Bill, for making it clear to me that your comment was uttered in humor… sometimes, because the language is not native for me,,, I miss some of the subtlety. I can assure you though, that I wasn’t offended personally. Having learned as much as I have in my long life, I have no anxiety that I might be judged as ignorant. So the question of insult was not a protest born in self defense, but a question as to the methods of those who protested smoking. I am relieved to understand your position, and thank you for your comment.

  16. Shimon – although I am sorry to hear that you will be engaging in the nomad lifestyle until you find a more permanent place to rest your head, I am excited for you that the adventure continues. Much bother and trouble awaits, but at the end point of that journey, I do pray that you find a more suitable place to call home.

    Your post brought to mind a word I discovered a while back; the word made an impression on me then, and still lingers in my mind. The word is “querencia” ; a Spanish word, roughly translated to mean a place from which one’s strength is drawn, where one feels at home; the place where you are your most authentic self. Interestingly enough, in old world Spanish culture it can also be translated to mean in bullfighting, the part of the ring where the bull stops to gather his strength; to take a stand against his opponent; a place where he is safe from harm, and feels powerful and strong.” It seems the perfect word to share with you today.

    My prayer is for you to find that place, where you can rest easily, and draw strength from whatever it is that soothes your soul. Whether it be the perfect light slanting through a window, or a place to stack your books, or a lovely garden with a spot of green to calm your spirit, or the freedom to draw smoke into your lungs until they are filled with peace again, my prayer is that you seek out and find your own querencia.

    here is a link to a piece written about the word querencia: http://taprootfarm.info/art-and-spirit/querencia-the-cob-cottage/the-meaning-of-querencia/ (I do so wish I knew enough to embed these links more fluently)

    • Thank you very much, N, for introducing me to the word, querencia, and the concept that comes with that word. And for leaving the link to the article about the word and concept. In Hebrew too, there is a lot of meaning given to certain places, and the word place… when said as ‘the place’ is one of the names of god. I encountered in the writings of Carlos Castaneda an awareness of personal place that was similar to things I had learned in our culture. I was very luck in that I felt I found my place in this world, and though I started life in very difficult circumstances, life kept getting better for me as time passed. It could very well be, that at this stage of life, I was too secure, and maybe I needed to be shaken up so that I wouldn’t doze off and die. It hasn’t always been to my liking, since I agreed to move. But it has been a very intense adventure. In a way, I am experiencing some things I haven’t experienced since I was young. So I see this as part of staying alive. I thank you for your blessing, and hope that this journey of mine won’t last too long. I am getting worn out. I am already in my third temporary home, and it’s okay. But I am waiting to be in my own home once again. I appreciate your point of view and your thoughts very much.

    • This prompted me to write an account of the origin of the word querencia and to point out some English words that are etymologically related to it:

      http://wordconnections.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/querencia/

  17. A very thoughtful post. I hope you find a place to live that you love and can be comfortable in, to do as you wish. I truly believe in everything happening for a reason, and the place where you should be is getting itself ready for you now. It awaits you.

    • I too believe that there is reason in our journey in this world, Amy, and feel that there is a blessing in my difficult journey in the last few months. Officially, I have bought a new home… and these experiences that I’ve had are a sort of in between stage while my friends set up my new home for me. It’s been quite an adventure. Thank you Angeline.

  18. The cruelty is part of our history, to say the least…
    Our life is short, maybe, that is a good reason we want to be kind to ourselves, to our health… I love the smile on your face.

    • Thank you Amy, for your good wishes, including health. My best wishes to you. May you smile with the world, and enjoy health and happiness, and tolerance towards all living creatures, and be blessed in love.

  19. Life can be cruel and people can be cruel. But we have to move on and let them know they are not going to conquer us with their cruelty. Perhaps you will find a nicer place to live as a result of this man’s intolerance to smoking. While I would never smoke myself, I feel that everyone should have the freedom of choice regarding their own habits.

    • There are many different levels of cruelty between human beings. Sometimes we are lucky, just to escape I appreciate your regard for freedom of choice. I have already found a better place, and though I didn’t feel like moving again, it could very well be that this chapter was a blessing in disguise.

  20. you weave an interesting story Shimon, in and out through history, religions, philosophy and psychology – “to love ourselves” ultimately it comes down to this one simple statement. I hope the house move goes well, I was enjoying your stay in your recent neighbourhood – new areas to see and wonder at.

    • Thank you Claire. My new temporary home is in the next neighborhood from the one I was in before, and I still go there for some of the shops. I would like to take some pictures of the new neighborhood, but we’ve been having some dark and rainy days recently. You will see. It’s quite nice.

  21. Well, I got a really good laugh here this morning, Shimon. I enjoyed the heroic build-up to The-man-is-throwing-me-out-of-the-house pinnacle of the story! Of course, I enjoyed the reminder of man’s inhumanity in its historic context, and I always relish the pictures. I loved the self-portrait. You look handsome and well. And I agree. You and I are old Social Pariahs, you know. :-) Ah, if you lived in my town, I’d be ever so happy to offer half of my house to an old fellow sinner… ;-)

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, George. And thank you for liking the self portrait. Yes, I’m stubborn… and even so, I have some friends. But it’s been very interesting living outside of my own turf for a while; very educational. Thank you very much for the thought of putting up with me, if… Actually, you’re quite safe, because I am just too attached to this city. But it would be very interesting to meet.

  22. There are enough comments here to keep you busy so I will just say that your blog is always a treat to read – something about the way your indomitable spirit shines through no matter what – and oh, the pear photo is quite beautiful! Be well Shimon, and know that all is temporary…

    • Ah yes, bluebrightly. We can be sure of that. For some reason, I thought I could just fade away though… and then I found out that if you want to stay alive, there are sudden tests till the end. Very glad you liked the pear. Thanks.

      • “Sudden tests til the end” – I am warned! But, looking around as I do in my work with people who are sick and usually old, it is obvious that the tests continue. I suppose we apply ourselves a bit differently to them, as time climbs the ladder – less recklessly, and with a better understanding of ebb and flow. I hope!

  23. Dear Shimon,
    Thank you for writing such an interesting post. Very thoughtful and thought-provoking.
    I hope you find a place where you feel comfortable and can settle in and live as you wish.
    Warmly,
    Naomi

    • Thank you very much Naomi… all of these moves are an in between stage, after selling my old home (where I lived for 40 years) and waiting for my new one to be ready for me. It has been far more of an experience than I ever expected, but I guess I needed the shake up. Appreciate your sweet comment.

  24. Good morning dear Shimon….Having been a nomad myself over the years, I know exactly what it feels like……and no matter how small ones abode, it’s important that you feel comfortable within it….and so who knows what wonderful little bolt hole will appear in your life. Remember, none of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out…………….

    Your photograph of the pear on the glass plate, is a masterpiece. It’s an image, I would love to have on my wall, so that I could gaze upon it every single day.

    Interestingly when I have been a nomad….i find that my creative juices seem to flow even stronger…I am not sure why…but its true.

    Meanwhile, Keep well, keep happy and keep making beautiful artwork.
    Janet. :)x

    • You always say that, Janet… and I always agree with you. But I have to admit that it’s quite different when we are living the experience. Nechama has already moved into the new house before me, and I visited with her yesterday. She sat next to me but was very reserved. I couldn’t tell if she still recognized me. If she’d been a dog, she would probably have been all over me. But we cats don’t forgive easily.

      Thank you so much for your kind words on the pair. I never liked them all that much. But I ate store bought. This one seemed like it ripened on the tree, and it reminded me of how much my mother used to love pairs. It was so sweet and tasty. Ah… those surprises just keep on happening, as you know well… xxx

  25. You have been sent back to live a student’s life once more. Just a room some books and your laptop. We might worry but in your photo you look humorous. So, I hope you can enjoy the liberty. I sometimes look back to that time in my life and miss some of it.. solitude when needed, libraries, conversations. This was an intellectual masterpiece and a joke at the same time.
    I liked the cyclamen photos too..

    • As you know, Mr Coolperson, I have stayed a student all my life. It’s just that I was always very well rewarded for my diligence. But now that I got overly settled in, and went around conversing with cats, the gods thought I needed a good kick in the ass, and that pretty much explains what’s been happening. Sometimes it seems as if it’s all a joke, but I’m glad you enjoyed the cyclamens.

      • I am not a man!I thought your post was witty.. but perhaps I misread it.I’ll come and give anyone who has hurt you a kick in the pants…even though I am a female.My feet are big!

  26. Boy, Shimon, I really hate to tell you that if I were a landlord, I wouldn’t let people smoke in my apartments either! I know you’re just fuming about that (and lighting up), but the thing is that smokers aren’t bothered by the smoke and smell of cigarettes, or what the smoke does to homes, but others are, and so the majority wins nowadays. In the US, this is really a public health issue (second-hand smoke) and smoking isn’t allowed hardly anywhere indoors anymore as cigarettes and their smoke are carcinogenic and cause respiratory issues in people like me. I have to hold my breath when walking by the smokers to get into my building and my eyes burn like crazy. I do understand your feeling of “to each their own,” but smoke (unfortunately) likes to creep into other people’s space and lingers long after you move out. Regardless, the landlord should have stated that smoking wasn’t allowed in the rental agreement so you would never have moved there! I’m really sorry about that and it isn’t right at all.

    Aside from all that, I found that your post reminded me of the experience I had earlier (and chronically) with the communal laundry room in here, which is controlled by complete anarchy. Every weekend, rude people take their clothes out of the washer, see that all the dryers are in use, and it’s always my dryer that they open as I have a small load, then dump my wet things out and throw theirs in. So, when my alarm goes off, I go to get my things and find a wet mound on the table! Sometimes, they want the washer and just take my soapy clothes right out while they’re spinning around! So, in retaliation, I turn off their dryer or washer, whichever they stole from me, and take my big pile to another floor in search of an unoccupied washer or dryer. I just wish I could see the anonymous face of the washer/dryer thief when they discover what happened to their precious stuff. There you go: human nature and an eye for an eye at its best: the secret laundry room war at my motel. What happened to common courtesy?

    Leah x (I really hope you find a spot to hang your hat very soon or you may end up in a motel with the crazy laundry room like me!)

    • You can thank your lucky stars that you were never my landlord, Leah. You would come crawling on all fours, begging me to come back… you would be saying, come, blow smoke into my ear, Shimon… whatever you want… just come back. But I would just say meow. I tell you, Leah, you have to be real careful about whom you deal with, and how you deal… you don’t want life to go by you with a long whistle just because you have some principles you bought second hand. Wake up, Leah. There are surprises every day!

      • Well, Shimon, I figured you wouldn’t care for my opinion on this, but I just spoke my mind and explained the reason why all the anti-smoking rules have come about as this really is old news across the pond (in the country I love to bash if you recall). There will always be those who like rules and those who don’t. We can agree to disagree, and even though I wish you wouldn’t smoke, I’ve never told you that you should quit. I lost a grandfather to smoking, so I have some strong feelings on the subject and they weren’t bought second-hand! I’m sure you’re an excellent tenant without a doubt, but I lived below a smoker for over a year and had a chronic cough the entire time, so their choice to smoke (illegally) affected me, as well as the out-of-state owner who wasn’t the wiser. That’s it. All in all, I really just think that people should be courteous towards their neighbors, unless they don’t deserve it. Best of luck again on finding your next home…

  27. sorry to hear you have to move on again, and good luck with the search for a new home. As for the smoking, well, I think everyone should have the freedom to smoke if they wish to, but I wouldn’t let people smoke in my house. The garden is ok though :-) I hope you find somewhere to live very soon, best wishes.

    • Thank you very much for your good wishes, Emily. I hope you’re always surrounded by people who offer inspiration and enlightenment, and with whom you feel a great affinity, and that the most beautiful butterflies will choose to visit your garden.

  28. In America we’ve become increasingly hostile to smokers. When I was young, I smoked and used to dream about still smoking. Oddly, though we are very strict about smoking, we seem incredibly lax about violence, especially toward women and children.

    • Ah, yearstricken, as much as I loved America when I was there… I think my fellow countrymen are trying too hard to emulate the American ethic. It’s a wonder they didn’t bring prohibition here. I think we’re your biggest fans. But yes, this campaign against smoking seems to be the proof that America really cares about health. Violence is natural, and if we’re fat and lazy it must be some psychological syndrome… they’ll accept almost any sort of deviant behavior these days… except smoking. Well, I’m old and stubborn… and the more I hear about how bad it is, the more I want to do it! Thanks so much for coming by my dear. Did I ever tell you I just love your writing?

  29. Pingback: querencia | Spanish-English Word Connections

  30. One consideration that a few commenters touched on indirectly but that I’d like to address more directly is the question of rights. For the most part I take what you might call the libertarian stance of letting people do what they want. For example, I’m for the legalization of drugs (and not just marijuana). When it comes to pharmaceuticals, I think I should be able to buy whatever I want in a pharmacy without having to beg someone to write me a prescription. Yes, there can be dangers from drugs, but if I’m willing to take the risk, then I don’t see that anyone should object.

    An exception arises when two rights conflict. For example, people are free to practice playing their drums—as long as they don’t play so loud that neighbors are forced to hear (and even feel) the sound. I’d make the same kind of argument about smoking. There’s strong evidence that smoking is harmful, but If someone wants to take the risk, so be it—as long as I’m not forced to be subjected to it. I’ve suffered from respiratory ailments since I was little, and things like cigarette smoke can affect me. I remember a few decades ago when airlines started making separate smoking and non-smoking sections on planes. Yes, I always reserved a seat in a non-smoking section, but after takeoff, as soon as the no-smoking sign went off, the entire plane quickly filled up with smoke from the people lighting up. Smoke, it turns out, doesn’t know how to read and is no respecter of non-smoking sections. For that reason, more and more jurisdictions have restricted smoking in public places, so that people who don’t want to breathe the smoke aren’t forced to.

    • A very interesting point of view, Steve. I can tell you that when the airplanes forbade all smoking, I just stopped using the airplanes. But I agree that the best way is mutual respect and consideration. Always good to hear from you. Coolperson answered your comment right below… you might find it interesting too.

  31. But who decides which of the dangerous things are allowed? Cars seem to be accepted yet the petrol fumes are very dangerous and the drivers often take drugs [ on prescription] causing drowsiness. People drive with cataracts etc cause they can’t live without their car…..
    Smoke does affect my breathing but so do other fumes
    In a plane I agree it’s already tough as the air is re circulated… so maybe it should be smoke free.
    What should be our rights? Who decided? Is all this health alertness giving us depression and anxiety [and creating money for firms selling drugs]?
    In Shimon’s case, we can’t expect him to say in public why he needs or wishes to smoke and if he would stop if someone near by had a bad cough. Maybe he just enjoys it or enjoys teasing his readers…
    When I was at Uni I felt inferior because I was unable to smoke:)

    I

  32. Shalom Shimon! interesting post about a fatal habit that some call “vice”…
    * * *
    @”Well, my new landlord, in my most recent temporary apartment back in Jerusalem, objected to my smoking in his house.” – I don’t smoke and nobody does among my close ones and friends… with due respect, I totally agree with your landlord… take care of your health, please, good luck and friendly thoughts, Mélanie

  33. Since Shimon is clearly a very aged person already his habits do not seem to have harmed his health.Not so many years ago doctors claimed smoking strong cigarettes actually helped the lungs.We were told not to use butter for the last 30 years and it appears the medical folk were wrong.The low fat margarine is worse for us.
    I don’t smoke but within your own apartment surely it should be allowed? I wonder if by pointing at our sins,the politicians divert us from seeing the much worse things around us..I already mention petrol pollution.Building more motorways is never criticised.Meanwhile people get fatter as they don’t walk home from work or shopping…they all have their own car
    How about Junk on TV and suchlike.. …. ready made food,prescription drugs.
    It is an intriguing ethical problem to say what are our rights…. like till ten years ago a man could not be charged with raping his wife in the UK i.e. it was his right to have sex whether his wife wanted it or not.Now he no longer has that “right”…..

  34. As usual, Shimon, you had me and my attention. I love your posts and photos particularly. You had my attention until you got to the part about the right to smoke. I love your posts and I love your take on things, but I just can’t make the connection between ‘liberty, equality, and fraternity’ and the right to smoke wherever you wish.
    That’s the trouble with us converts. We get a lot more passionate about the issue than those who have never smoked. I remember sitting on a park bench one sunny day reading my book. A woman settled herself down next to me, rummaged in her bag for a cigarette and lit up. Not being the type who likes confrontations, I was the one getting up. What’s the answer then, to both sides having their rights upheld?

    • I think the answer, Mary, is love and respect. And I believe that you did the right thing when you got up and left. This has happened to me many times… I will be sitting in a park, reading a book quietly, and some kids will come and talk loudly, crack jokes, or play ball. I don’t tell them, ‘I was here first’, but get up and find another place. Thanks for your comment.

  35. I think that smokers have every right to smoke if they want to, but the smell really does permeate into every nook and cranny of a house, or apartment, so I can understand your landlord’s point of view. I hope you soon find a place where you can settle down and find some stability, Shimon. Everything tends to work out for the best, in the end. I love your ‘tasty pear’ pic. It looks delicious, and just ripe enough. :) xx

  36. Hi!
    Thank you for writing this. I was struggling with similar feelings today as I walked through an Indigenous museum – though the subject was never touched, I couldn’t help but feel angry at white man for coming over and triggering this mass killing that happened as a result. My boyfriend said there was no point in getting angry because it is already done and at the time, white man thought they were in the right, and it is incorrect to judge them by today’s moral standard. I didn’t know what to make of it at the time – and I still don’t to a point – but your post helped add perspective – we’ve done terrible things, but we all have the potential for good, and to make good. I feel like maybe these definitions vary a lot and there will be no true peace – even though as we’ve globalised, a more universal standard for life has been set and we’re all slowly becoming the same…….

    • Personally, I don’t think we’ll ever be the same… we tend to copy others at time… and there are fashions that sweep through the population… but ultimately, each of us has to choose his own way, each time we approach a moral dilemma. I can understand your anger. But were you to know still more, you might have similar anger at the indigenous people as well. What’s most important, it seems to me, is how we deal with the issues that are right in front of us, happening now. Thanks, Jess, for your comment.

  37. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    MAN IS NEITHER JUST AN ANIMAL OR PRACTICALLY AN ANGEL. wE HAVE WITHIN OURSELVES THE CAPABILITY OF GOOD AND EVIL…REGARDLESS OF LABEL OR PROFESSED CREED. LOOKED LIKE A NICE ROOM AND NICE PICTURES, FOR WHAT WAS.

  38. Ha – Whisky & cigarettes, two of life’s small pleasures :) in the end it all comes down to good manners and tolerance, which seem to be sadly lacking in some these days.
    After just about two months away, I must say it is a pleasure reading your posts again Shimon.

    David.

    • Yes, I would agree with you… good manners and tolerance are so important. Sometimes it seems that there are fashions in tolerance. We are encouraged to be tolerant of certain types or individuals… and tolerance to others are sometimes never considered. Glad you’re back, David. I’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t done much blog reading, but I do look forward to getting back myself.

      • Gosh Shimon,
        It sounds like you have really been through the mill! but I hope all has a happy ending.

        David.

        • It’s very interesting to think about happy endings… meantime, it looks like things have worked out pretty well for me, and I do believe I’ve learned a few important lessons from what I went through while I was waiting for the move to be over.

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