poetry and bull shit

My dear friends, last week I wrote a poem… and got some comments on the blog and a lot of mails. Didn’t really know how to reply to them all. In the past, I have written posts, and turned comments off. And then I would get mails, asking why I had turned the comments off. That people wanted to respond to what I wrote. And you know, I really do enjoy the comments. So this time, I left the comments on, even though I knew that it would be very hard to respond. In fact the week has gone by, and I haven’t responded. So I decided to take this opportunity to explain my situation.


There are so many levels of communication. Sometimes we tell what’s happening in our life. I know there are bloggers who share their most intimate feelings, aspirations, and anxieties on their blogs. Often these people choose to protect themselves with anonymity. They adopt a pseudonym, and use a picture of a flower or a fish as their icon on their blog. Sometimes I don’t even know if they are a man or a woman, young or old. I’ve often felt a discomfort when reading such a blog. I felt a need to know where the voice was coming from. And so, on this blog I use my own name, and that is my real picture at the top of the page. But then, when relating to very personal matters, I can’t help but think of the subjective nature of personal material. And I wonder about the many different ways one could look at the same experience.


On one hand, I want to be accurate about what I present on the blog. And on the other, I am aware that because the story is so personal, what I’m saying is highly subjective… and if it were viewed by another human being they might see things very differently. Moreover, some things are so complicated. Stories have previous incarnations… they’re woven like a Persian rug, with threads from numerous pictures interwoven and emerging again and again as the images change. On occasion, I choose to tell my story as a parable, and other times, I turn to poetry.


Some people asked, is this true? Is it literal or figurative? Are you moving? Did you have such and such a relationship? So let me tell you how I see poetry. For me, poetry is as true as it gets. It is cutting past the skin. It is getting to the heart of the matter. It is a cutting away of the explanations and justifications, and the apologies. It is laying the soul bare. It is piercing through the fog and the mist and the manners to get at the essence. And once the soul has been exposed, each of us has to understand it as best he or she can, from our own experiences in this life. There is no point in explanations, because everything has been said. I know that in academic circles, a poem is sometimes taken apart to better understand it. If you were to do that, it’d be okay… it would be you’re way of getting to the heart of it. But I couldn’t take part in such an exercise. I wrote you a poem, my dear friends, to tell you where I was at. What more could I possibly say.


But in our tradition, there are certain exceptions to the rules. For instance, we refrain from using the explicit name of our god. But for the purpose of learning or teaching, we are permitted to say the name. So I’ve decided to tell you a bit about last week’s poem… and to tell you a bit about bull shit too. All for the sake of the learning.


After living for 40 years in the same apartment… a condominium… my very dearest friends have convinced me that it would be in my interest to move to another apartment, where according to them, I would be more comfortable. It never occurred to me to move. It would be a move to the next neighborhood over from where I’ve lived all these years; into a newer and better built building… near a nice shopping center. There is a list of all of the advantages and it goes on and on. One night, after listening to some powerful convincing, and actually visiting the proposed apartment, I agreed. But then, returning to my trusty old home, I looked at the walls, at the old furniture, at the books that cover almost all of my walls, the ghosts of old memories started coming back to me from forty years of living in the same place. And that’s what I put into the poem. Of course, I could have written a book. But that wouldn’t have fit on the blog.


Meantime, while my friends are taking care of the arrangements, and packing up my belongings, and cleaning the accumulated dust, and putting my many possessions in order, my dear friend Janne, has provided me with a room in her home, in a small village, a very short distance from Jerusalem. The pictures on this post were taken where I am presently residing till the dust settles, and I’ll actually move to my new home. Believe me, it’s a very emotional experience. But life has been good to me. And my life right now is very good too. Aside from the very gracious hospitality of Janne, I’m also enjoying the companionship of Georgia the cat, who’s appeared on these pages recently, and Charlie the cat, and Bonnie the bitch, all of whom amuse me and help me pass the time in what otherwise might be sheer hell.


And now, about bull shit. This is an expression I learned when visiting in America. It was a common expression, used often when there were doubts about the veracity of something said. I was reminded of the expression when I got a few mails asking me if what I’d posted last week was true.


From what I understand, some years back, in the western part of the USA, they used to sell these 50 pound bags of bovine feces as manure for the cultivation of agricultural products, vegetables and flowers. On the bag there was an impressive picture of a healthy bull, snorting and pounding the ground with his front hooves. The picture was supposed to convince the farmer buying the product, of the effectiveness and the power of the manure in the bag. But since farmers were skeptical about advertising even in those days, and knew that there were more cows in the meadow than there were bulls, they used to refer to this product, with a smile, saying ‘bull shit’.


But the story is not so simple. It turns out, especially these days, that there is a substantial difference between the dung of bulls and steers when compared to milk cows. Cows are fed more roughage and grasses, because a lot of grain cuts into milk production, whereas the diet of bulls and steers consists of a base ration of hay and corn. If raised for meat, they often get a protein supplement as well as salt, limestone and dicalcium phosphate. So maybe, at least nowadays, there’s no reason to scoff at bull shit. For as we know, what comes out is influenced by what went in.


I love your comments, my friends, and I hope you enjoyed this explanation. As I mentioned before, the pictures here are of my present environment. I hope that soon I will be home again… even if that home will be a bit different from the one I’ve been used to for the last forty years.


111 responses to “poetry and bull shit

  1. Only you could write such a poetical post about a post!!!!

    Well, I’m glad to hear you are with Janne and her wonderful cats and not being stressed out by the move. It must be hard to leave your old home after so long but I’m glad to hear your new place isn’t too far away.

    I wish you every happiness in your new place….and I love the sunshine in these lovely pics…..and the cat in the branches.xxxx

    • Thank you so much for your good wishes, Dina. I’ve accepted this move in my head. But it really isn’t characteristic of me. I’m used to living my life according to my intuition. And that tells me to stay put, because my old home as been a very good base for me through the years. But you know, neighborhoods change… life is so fluid. I know my friends see the situation more objectively than I do… and so I’m trying to be fluid, but it isn’t that easy for me. But eventually this period will be over, I suppose, and I’ll enjoy it all. Yes, I loved that cat between the branches. I think I wanted to be up in the tree myself. xxx

  2. Good luck with your move and new community.

  3. Beautiful post Shimon. Good luck with the move. I wish you much success.

    • I appreciate your good wishes, Edith. I think it’ll work out all right. I’ve been playing with a new view… a wider rectangle in photography… in order to distract myself from the miseries of moving.

  4. The bull shit was interesting and admittedly fun, coming from who I understand you to be, dear Shimon, but the rest of it resonates deeply with me…the poetry coming from way beneath the skin, from the cells of our souls and needing no explanation…and especially the subject of home and what it means to leave it after so long. Thank you for sharing as you have, for putting those emotions and thoughts into words for us, for me. I wish you well with your move.

    • I appreciate your words, Scott. You are a true friend. And you’re right about the bullshit. When we use vulgarity sparingly, it works… but when we take to large a bite, it’s meaningless. I feel we have a similar attitude towards writing, you and I… and I thank you for your good wishes.

  5. Thank you for the explanation, Shimon. It was a beautiful poem about a place that held many memories. I enjoyed the history of bull shit immensely. Congratulations (is Mazel Tov appropriate?) on your new home and I’m glad you’re being nurtured during the process of moving. Friends are such a blessing!

    • Mazel tov sounds perfect to me, Cathy. In Hebrew it means good luck. And that’s just what I need these days. I had the feeling that my dear friends understood the objective reality better than I did… and so I went along, even though it didn’t really sit well with my intuition. Now, with a little good luck, I hope it’ll all work out well. Thank you for your kind words.

  6. Thank you so much for taking to explain, Mr. Shimon. The poem part is eloquent. I’m glad you are staying with Janne and her wonderful cats until you move. Good luck with your move. Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Janne is a very calming influence on me. And so, instead of watching my world come apart, I am trying to enjoy new stimuli; playing with my camera… amusing the cats. Thank you, Amy. Let’s hope that luck will stay with me.

  7. I hope you’ll be very happy in your new home. It certainly looks beautiful and you’re lucky to have your friends around. Best wishes to you all.

    • Thank you very much Fatima. The home I’m staying in now, is the home of a dear friend. But the one I’m moving to is beautiful too. You will see some pictures from there in the near future. I appreciate your good wishes.

  8. It can be hard for me to relate as far as the concept of “home” goes, as I’ve never been in one place for more than a few years at a time. I’ve been in the same vicinity, but never the same actual home. Now that I’ve recently bought a house, I’m hoping maybe I will settle in and be less transient.

    It is hard for me to imagine packing up 40 years of memories, and trying to fit them into a new space, not to mention the transition period, where you are in temporary quarters while waiting to begin this new phase. I’m hoping that this might energize your spirit, even while you experience the turmoil around you. I know you well enough to know that you enjoy exposing yourself to new situations, and enjoy learning, so maybe this major life change will provide a long list of new stories.

    Perhaps this just relates to me, but I find that the older I get, the less comfortable I am with change (even though life has taught me that change is constant). I crave familiarity, and routine, and predictable patterns. I admire your willingness to embrace this new chapter of your life.

    As one of those people who (mostly) stays hidden behind a generic icon and a screen name, I’m sure you’ve deduced that in my case, it is about keeping a safe distance, even though, if I were being honest, I would prefer to have the bravery required to reveal myself. An absence of bull shit, as it were. Poetry is one way to reveal yourself, and you’ve shared something with us that is precious, and real. Thank you.

    • I agree with you, N. Understand that you haven’t had that joy of a lifetime spent in one home… and am happy for you at the move you made recently, and wish you long life in your new home. Each of us faces different challenges, based upon his own psychic needs. And I suppose that is why it’s hard sometimes, to understand the distress and the aches of another. But I always feel that you understand me. And just like you, changes are harder for me than when I was younger. You’re a very brave woman, N. You have painted some pictures that included the most painful revelations, and I’ve grown close to you and identified with you through those images. Each of us knows what is truly hard… and it’s different for everyone. I am grateful that in cyberspace too, I have found friends with whom I can share some really meaningful thoughts and experiences… and I value your friendship.

      • Shimon, thank you for your generous reply. It can be difficult to step forward into the unknown, especially when your intuition has your gut unsettled and queasy. Being brave at any age is a challenge, but embracing those brave and bold moves as we get older … well, it makes us prove the point that we are open and accepting of what life puts in our path. Sometimes we just have to step forward willingly, and trust. For those of us that have had to learn (or unlearn) about trusting in something other than our own wits and intuition, well, that can be a challenge.

        I’m grateful to hear that your friends and family are supporting you through this transition, and I wish for you the best of luck in your new home. I also share your sorrow at leaving the comforting walls of your home, and encourage you forward as you step into the next chapter.

        Beginning a new adventure doesn’t erase the memories of all the previous adventures, so as you carry all those memories with you into your new home, I hope they will fill up the nooks and crannies with their volume and depth. Although it doesn’t seem fair that sometimes we have to leave the safety of one place to find safety in another, I suppose the important part of the equation is that we have the chance to explore and discover. From one brave soul to another …. safe travels.

        • p.s. your post inspired me to replace my tiger-lily icon (which I’ve been using for years and years) with a recent photo of myself. I’m finding that as the years move forward, I am finally beginning to learn how to trust a bit more … in increments, yes, and with caution … but still, some forward movement is always welcome.

          • A tiger-lily is beautiful… no question about it. But you know, to me there is nothing more attractive and more telling than a human face. When I meet someone, and look into a person’s face, I feel as if I’m meeting him or her in the deepest way possible, and it is often as powerful as the best of literature and art. We’ve all been exposed to a lot of commercialism, and it’s influenced our tastes and expectations. But those of us who truly care for people, know that each human being is a world in itself, and the face tells the story of that world. It’s a pleasure having a look at you, N.

        • p.s. (again) for reasons that are hard to explain, you have really been on my mind lately, and today was yet another day I thought of you, and wanted to share a word or two. Your present circumstances have reminded me that sometimes, when we excavate our past, it can leave us feeling empty, and then we have to take care with how we choose to fill up that emptiness. I am encouraged to read that you are choosing to focus on your photography as you transition through this move. It will surely provide you with some distraction, and solace.

          sending best wishes from this side of the world, to yours.

          • Thank you for your thoughts and encouragement. This whole business started with my wanting to remodel my old home. And then my friends encouraged me to weigh another alternative. And though I thought the time had come to listen to what others had to say (even about my own life, ha ha), the project was overwhelming. At first, I felt the need to escape, which eventually brought me to the very comfortable home of my friend Janne. And then… I thought, what can I do so I won’t be thinking about this project all the time, and I decided to try something new with photography. The good news is that so far, everything seems to be working out quite well. Thanks.

  9. In accord with all of the above. As a blogger with a King Kong icon I’m careful to keep my personal life to the side. When I write fiction I do not use my family info or let any personal secrets out of the bag, although there are some good stories there. As for the derivation of the term bullshit, I remain dubious. In the Bronx extreme falseness was often designated as “horseshit”. We knew our xxxx back in the Bronx.

    • You may very well be right about the bullshit, Bumba. As I go through this life, I find I’m never through with learning. There is always a new angle or a new understanding. That’s the great benefit of friends… we share what we know, and sometimes… together, we manage to guess our way through the blank spaces. I would love to see what you really look like, but I’ve got the feeling that there is something to be learned from your King Kong icon too. I wonder about the horseshit too. I can tell you, when I’m in the country and smell the cow shit, it always brings back good memories. Maybe people are prejudiced about some kinds of shit. Thanks for your comment.

      • My grandmother believed that the smell of manure cured a cold. In the Bronx we only had gas stations, so she would make do. As for my photo I had a photo in the About page, but thanks to your comment, I looked at it, realized it was too dark, and replaced it with a more recent one. I’m not that secretive. However, King Kong is a personal hero of mine.

        • I never heard that, about the smell curing a cold… but I always liked the smells of the farms, and especially the cow and horse manure. I never saw the movie King Kong… just heard about it from others. But I can understand the use of an iconic figure as a personal icon. Actually, the use of an icon is in itself something with deep historic roots, and probably speaks to a need within us, that we don’t always understand.

          • The original movie is wonderful, the later re-makes horrid. As for pesellim and icons, it’s of course forbidden by Jews and Muslims too, but it’s something very persistent and ingrained.

  10. Your words touch me in a place that is so deep, dear Shimon. I have a view that I can write anything on a blog, as long as it is positive for the world…something that I feel represents me, my friends and my family in a most honourable way…I appreciated your view of these things because I think bloggers need to always be thinking about boundaries just as people need to be in their lives and relationships. Your move describes something that I need to be considering as well…your description though, of stepping back into your comfortable space, is a feeling I know all too well and it is very convincing. You are in my heart, as always. As for bullshit, it is always there and it both unnerves me, but also makes me laugh. I’m full of gratitude that wherever you are living, you can continue to read, take photographs and write…creativity is key to life. Again, thank you.

    • I am so pleased that you enjoyed my post, Painter Lady. I appreciate your words. Moving can be very difficult for some people. And for others, it’s a great adventure. Each of us knows his own limitations. And on rare occasions, we’re willing to stretch them a bit… but it’s not easy. For me, creativity is an appreciation of life… it is like a prayer. I am distracting myself from my sorrow by working with my camera on a slightly different point of view. And I am grateful for the support I get from my friends. Thanks.

  11. Hi Shimon.
    Being the country boy that I am, I find you REally know your bull shit.
    Reading of your move brings up a feeling I believe we all have. A feeling of dislike or discomfort to change (or move as it were). I think it is a human emotion and have wondered why we have it many times. I have moved a number of times in my life and have had the feeling and right now, I’m in paradise and the thought of moving is most unpleasant. Wish I was there to help you. And that’s no bull!

    • I appreciate your support, Bob. I’m so glad for you that you’re enjoying paradise. The fact is that I’ve always felt that way about my old home. It was just exactly what I wanted. But you know, living in the city, neighborhoods change as the years go by… and I suppose that some of my friends are more sensitive to some of these changes than I am, and only want the best for me. And so I’m going along with it. But I’ve gotten a lot less flexible with old age. So it’s hard at times. I wish you were here too, my friend. But I’m grateful that we met, and that we can enjoy friendship from such far away places on the planet.

  12. Dear Shimon,
    I am glad that you have so many good friends to help you through this transition. I appreciated the explanation, both of them! Best wishes—keep us posted!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, Naomi. I suppose that what I’ve learned most from this experience, is that no matter how much we know, and how independent we are… we have to give up the control at times, and acknowledge the wisdom of others… let others lead. It’s a very strange test for me. But I am truly grateful for these friends of mine, who’ve leaned on my for my own sake. Thanks for the comment.

  13. Dear Shimon, I can understand you, you are so nice for this poetical explanations of your poetical touches… Sorry for all questions… But you know you are one of beautiful person in this blogging world and we all love you. Good Luck for new home, Best wishes, Thank you, love, nia

    • I so appreciate your love and your big beautiful heart, Nia. You are truly an inspiration for your blogging friends. And I know that you too have had experiences with moving in the recent past. Thank you for your wishes for good luck. That’s exactly what I need right now. And I plan to really immerse myself in photography for a while, to keep my mind off my old world, that is coming apart these days.

  14. Ha ha! Maybe you are giving us good feedstuff, Shimon, and the bullshit is coming out of your readers …
    This is a charming apologetic.

    • No I have a great love and appreciation for my readers. Gillyk. I feel like we’re all in the same classroom, learning together and from one another. Once, as a young man, I thought that we could reach a stage where we could graduate… and know it all. Now I realize that both the learning and the tests are a life long affair. And I keep moving forward and learning what I can… and taking tests. It’s all a part of life. Thanks so much for your comment.

  15. a few things.

    first, the title alone is (to use an expression) “worth the price of admission.” it reminds me of a friend’s book entitled “demons and kittens.”

    second, i could understand how you – but not i – would be offended by a question as to whether or not a post was true. i regularly write things that might be fiction or non-fiction, and it isn’t always easy for someone stumbling across my blog to be sure which is which.

    third, i have moved many times in my life and have probably had nearly ten different “homes” in 51 years. so i have never had the chance to really feel tied or connected to any one place. i have lived in tiny, one-bedroom apartments and sprawling five bedroom “McMansions” as they are often called. aside from my childhood home, the tiny one bedroom place is where i spent not just the most time but the most significant, life-changing time. leaving there was bittersweet because i was moving up to a bigger/better place, but i felt i was leaving an important piece behind me.

    last, about poetry. of all the things i read and write, i love poetry the most. i love working with students on their poetry, helping to shape and reshape their thoughts and expressions, and finding the right words of both sound and meaning for what they are “feeling.” it’s like a word puzzle of thought and emotion. so i’m one of those people who would sit in a classroom and deconstruct poetry. but i also know that it falls under the category of “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” it can be like pulling back the curtain and exposing the wizard and his effects. it can be a good thing, but it is not always a good thing.

    we’re looking forward to hearing about your new home. however, your words don’t seem to show that you are 100% convinced about it.

    • I have to say, Rich, that I wasn’t at all offended by the questions of my readers. I welcome them. I enjoy discussion. It was that I felt I couldn’t discuss my poetry. My view is that fine art, fine literature does tell the truth… even if it’s fiction. Fiction, to my way of thinking represents life as we know it, but seen through the imagination and the subjectivity of the author. Isn’t Cat’s Cradle as true as it gets, even though it’s fiction? And when it comes to the move, I have to admit that I’ve always been resistant to ‘bigger and better’. I was very lucky in that I got to live my dream at a relatively young age, and so it seems to me, greedy in a way… to move on to something even better now that I’m old. I feel like soon enough I’ll be in a small plot of ground anyway, and I don’t need any improvements while I’m here. But that is one of the luxuries of having friends. Sometimes they have a better perspective than we do… and I appreciate that. As to your last point, I’ve been a teacher too. And I know that learning device, of pulling things apart to see what makes them tick. But at the same time, you said it yourself: “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”. When we sit together as fellow artists, we have to keep that in mind… as I’m sure you do. I really appreciate your comments, Rich. I enjoy the way you think. And your words always lift the level of the conversation. Thank you so much for coming by.

  16. I know what you mean about people hiding behind pseudonyms, I unfortunately am forced to do so partly as well. I do show my face though, haha. I hope you don’t feel any discomfort reading my blog though since I always enjoy your comments!

    Poetry can be tricky that way, I’ve been taught to analyse it, turn it upside down and look at it from different perspectives. Fortunately I write my own poetry as well and I know that although the message is true the way it is brought often can be covered up in metaphors and fantasy.

    I like when you say: “poetry is as true as it gets. It is cutting past the skin. It is getting to the heart of the matter. It is a cutting away of the explanations and justifications, and the apologies. It is laying the soul bare. It is piercing through the fog and the mist and the manners to get at the essence. And once the soul has been exposed, each of us has to understand it as best he or she can, from our own experiences in this life.”

    This is how I feel about poetry too. I don’t know if you ever read this poem http://somedaysoonart.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/broken/ I wrote? It is probably one of the most personal and genuine pieces I have ever written. I received some emails about that one too and I felt reluctant replying to those as well. I think in some ways poetry shouldn’t be explained and interpreted by the reader’s own experience and emotions that it invokes.

    It’s the same with music, I always listen to the lyrics and often get incredibly disappointed when I learn the reason why the singer wrote it. It always seems to be so far from my own interpretation that it can actually spoil the song for me 🙂

    • I say it makes me feel uncomfortable, because I try to be straightforward with my friends here. It’s not a judgment. I know there are people who have crazy wives chasing after them… or the tax collector… more than I would even try to guess. And everyone tries to find the circumstances that work for him or her. But sometimes, it makes me uncomfortable… Don’t take my complaints too seriously. And your face is just fine with me. I’ve read the poem that you mentioned more than once. I couldn’t click ‘like’, because it was the tale of horrible circumstances from my view. I couldn’t discuss it with you, because of two reasons. First, I don’t know you well enough. And second, because good manners on the internet dictates that when we agree, we say so… and people try to be positive always. A poem, if it’s well composed, if it says something strongly, is called ‘awesome’ or something like that. I read it, and it touched me. If I were your brother, I would have said, ‘get out of this relationship’. I know, you wrote that it was a composite of numerous experiences that you have had with more than one man. And that saddened me even more. Of course, you could say to me, ‘what the hell, I’m attracted to these bastards; it’s my pleasure’. And then I’d have to agree, that you’re entitled to your choice. But still it would sadden me. In any case, I read what you write. And sometimes it really touches me… but I only comment when I think that what I have to say is appropriate. Thank you so much for your comment, M.

      • “And second, because good manners on the internet dictates that when we agree, we say so… and people try to be positive always.”

        One of the most refreshing things I’ve encountered on the internet is when, after a while, you come to know someone well enough that both parties are comfortable dispensing with this particular rule of etiquette, although I have nothing against positivity and supporting one another. In order to break a rule, in my opinion, you must first be capable of supporting it. Your comment made me smile.

      • Yes, I completely understand with you mean. When a poem carries such a strong message as mine did it would be strange to call it ‘awesome’ even though one might not be addressing the content but merely the style or rhythm or whatever they consider to be ‘awesome’ about it. And if you feel negative emotions while reading it it is much harder to express those then when you are expression positive ones.

        Haha, no, I’m not attracted to these men and luckily I am no longer in a relationship with such a man so it’s much easier to discuss what happened now. And although one might guess what the main theme of the poem is the layer underneath it is less violent (shocking) and merely a message of what a woman feels when being oppressed by a man (in a completely non-sexual way). I grew up with a severely narcissistic father who dictated every part of my being. He too is part of this poem. I think in a way this poem is me saying goodbye to that, I broke free of my fathers oppression and I got out of that relationship. All is good now 🙂

        M. (It’s Masha btw 🙂 )

        • I am happy to hear that you’re not attracted to such men. I do know that sometimes people have ‘unfinished business’ which leads to some very strange attractions. Didn’t think the poem was really a story of violence… but I sensed a deep rage, and it saddened me that you would choose to be with a man that provoked that in you… more than once. I’m very glad that things are good now, Masha, and my wishes for you is that you will always have friends and lovers who bring out what you like the best about yourself… and that your stories of cruelty will only be inspired by empathy; what we read in the news, or what you’ve seen happen to others. Thank you very much for sharing your name with me. I appreciate that.

  17. Is L’Chaim okay to wish you, here? It is what I want to wish you. Moving home after a long or short time is always some kind of trauma, but, I agree, it is even more so when so many memories of your life are embedded in the place you leave.

    You have wonderful friends around you.

    As always, the pictures speak volumes. The cat picture is magnetic and I adore the bushes with the striking red flowers.

    I do hope you put your thoughts, pictures and wise words (bull shit or no) into a volume or three.

    • L’Chayim is a toast to life, and I think that’s very appropriate. I suppose that I’ve grown quite a bit conservative over the years, and maybe a little cranky too… so it would be good for me to remember that what’s important is to enjoy life while we have it, and not to resist change… nor the consequences of changes all around us. Glad you like the pictures. menhir. And I too was taken by the cat. He could have been in the jungle and not in the well cared for public garden. Thanks so much for your comment.

  18. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

    your thoughts are poetry in motion for they seem to be breathing with life…
    and I loved your description of how you see poetry is wonderful…I agree whole-heartedly….
    as for avatars, I agree also…I had “me” up for over a year…to be honest I got tired of looking at me….so I changed it to what I feel at the moment in my life….I have been thinking I will be me again this December…( my birthday sounded good when I thought about when )
    Thank you Shimon…another post I enjoyed feeling as well as reading…I am glad you are staying with friends in the change…
    Take Care…You Matter…

    • Thank you so much, Maryrose. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I know you write a lot of poetry, and so it does please me that we can agree on that subject. And yes, I consider myself very lucky that I have such a sweet friend who has taken me in during this difficult time, and given me an ideal and beautiful home in which to spend my time. Thanks again for your comment.

  19. Chuckle… Chuckle…
    As my old grandmother used to say, “You just won’t do!”. Bullshit, hmmm…

    I love the cat in the tree. I couldn’t see the second photo since it refused to load. I always love your photography as you know. Glad Janne is babysitting you to prevent the inevitable tantrum or two you’d most certainly have had if you were supervising the packing and moving!

    Enjoy your time with Janne and Georgia.

    And, no, there is nothing more you could possibly have said.

    • I’m sure I could have learned a lot of things from your dear old grandmother. And yes, I loved that cat in the tree too. I was watching him for some time, as he scampered among the branches, hiding from the birds before trying to ambush them. But fortunately, they were all very clever, and we trying to get him to fall off the tree. But that didn’t happen either. I had to smile at your comment about Janne babysitting me, because it’s so true. She is a real sweetheart… and I do have the urge to have a tantrum every time I have to deal with the real life situation of my old home. Loved the comment, George. Thanks so much.

    • I just remembered that you said you couldn’t download the second picture. I wish you’d give it another chance, because it is a picture I love… something of the peace around this second home of mine…

      • I was able to load the picture just now. Oh, it is a peaceful place. I love the feel of it, Shimon. You will be happy there, I know it. It feels like a kind of un-cluttering. All of the baggage swept away. Does that make sense? It is a fine place to write the ending, I think. Thank you for reminding me to return. This is the image I will keep in my head when I think of your home.

  20. Hi Shimon. I am beginning to catch up after my trip to the States. For now just want to say how much I love the first image of cat on this post, and that I am LOVING the book ‘Henderson the Rain King’ which you recommended. Fabulous read. More later…and wishing you and Nechame a beautiful weekend…Janet. 🙂

    • So good to hear you’re back, Janet. And you can be sure I’m not surprised to hear that you love the cat on the tree. You would so have enjoyed watching his antics as I did. And I’m very glad you’re reading Henderson. That is a classic. And it’s really fun to share something that good with you. Nechama had a very good weekend. The poor girl doesn’t know what’s coming, and I’m a little worried about her. She will have her wild forest taken away from her, and get a very well manicured park in exchange. That’s what we’ll have as a backyard in our new home. I worry about her, but hope she’ll be able to adjust. Thanks for the comment. xxx

  21. Thinking of you during this moving (in two ways) time Shimon x annie

  22. Poetry is something intimate, it’s certain!
    I think every person who feels strong emotions, can put down those into a poem. There is no need to respect the “hendecasyllables” or others. Basically, even the prose (allow me the arrogance of this observation), it can be “poetic” and you give evidence with your writings. Although I love your sense of humor, which many times I cannot fish out from my bowels, because since too long I got into the habit of seeing things in their drastic and cruel reality. Life isn’t always a promenade!
    When we move to another place, it’s always difficult, especially when we remain linked to the old walls, the views from the window, the dust that has crept between the pages of the many books…
    Into the old place we leave a part of ourselves, like a gostly spirit. Leaving is a bit more like dying inside… but as I read up here, isn’t the same for everybody.
    In the human, the ephemeral instant is always clouded with wisdom: we don’t want to think about it, we try to fool ourselves to be immortal. Maybe. Or maybe not.
    After all, we are immortal in the Mind/Spirit, in the soul that, being divine essence itself, is immortal. Well, I don’t want to do cheap rhetoric on religion or on the existence of a Supreme Being (each of us can give Him a specific name). However, any departure is linked and double knotted to those feelings that you so well describe… there are people who will feel them sharply, like you do Shimon, others that will feel them on a subconscious level but won’t be in a position to express them at all. One day, for sure, we all have to move to another “Level” for some time, and then, if you believe in reincarnation, you will came back down here… somewhere, but we can’t choose! Thank you for sharing with us your experiences, giving the others a possibility to “go deep into someone’s feelings” (once again).
    A lovely Shabbat claudine

    • Yes, we agree about poetry, Claudine. And about the darker side of life too. I liked what you said about the ghostly spirit. I don’t think much about ghosts usually. But there are definitely ghosts in a place where people have lived for a long time… and it’s worth a thought whether they leave with the people… especially when everything is cleared out, and the walls are painted, etc. I think that young people often see themselves as being immortal… perhaps in an effort to avoid the nature of our temporary existence. Because of the circumstances of my youth, I had no such illusions, but I have felt them in others. Thank you very much for your good wishes. Always good to hear from you.

  23. I agree. It is hard to explain a poem, as you have just laid your soul down. There is nothing beyond the soul. Sadly, many do not relate to poetry, though.
    I moved continually as a child. I have lived here for over 25 years. My heart goes out to you. I wish you many years of happiness in your new home. Hugs to you.

    • It seems to me that moving around is more common in the younger generation… especially in the west. But I was very lucky, in that I saw the realization of my dreams at a relatively young age (I didn’t know I was young at the time)… and now it seems sort of ungrateful for me to move on of my own volition. Not because I have to. But part of this, is a resistance to change, I’m sure. Thank you very much for your comment, Ann.

  24. Thanks for explaining, but to me, the best part was that your explanation was in true Shimon style …. wit, wonder, insightful, stimulating, and questioning. Well done … cheers to friends and your new home … and love the first cat pic!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Frank. You’re very sweet. Yes, that picture of the cat in the tree is a classic. I’ll have to print up a few of those and frame them for friends.

  25. Change can be traumatic, but you seem to have a pragmatic view of life and what comes over in your blog is a person with a sunny disposition. So I am sure all will go well and I wish you an adventurous but happy move from one part of your life to another. As they say ‘A change is as good as a rest’ 🙂


    • Don’t be fooled by my literary persona, David. I have my ups and downs. I think you’re right about my being pragmatic… but like many others, I get carried away by my emotions… more than I would wish, in fact. This is one adventure that I don’t care for much. But I’m hoping that when it’s all over, I will be happy with the new environment. Thanks for the comment.

  26. I’ve never lived in one place for 40 years, but I can imagine that you would feel a sense of loss. I trust you will make many new memories in your new place.

    • Yes, I was very lucky to find a dream come true when I moved into my old home… and so, there was no need to ever leave. But time changes a lot of things. Not just me. The environment seems to be changing too… and there are adjustments to be made. My elephant is getting restless. Thanks so much for your comment yearstricken.

  27. It must be quite a wrench to move out from a place you have made your home for so long. I hope everything goes well with moving and settling in to your new accommodation.

    As for poetry, I’m with Paul Dirac:

    “In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in the case of poetry, it’s the exact opposite!”


    • Very interesting quote you have there. I’m not completely sure, but I would guess that his intention is to say that in poetry we tell people what they already knew… and I think there’s a lot of truth in that… though sometimes the poet has explored where other mortals have not yet tread. Thanks for your comment, Graham.

  28. Glad you’re enjoying Janne’s hospitality. Hope you grow to like your new place as much as you did your old.

    • Yes, I would say that the older I get, the more gracious life seems to be towards me… and Janne is certainly a very sweet friend whose hospitality makes this period quite comfortable. I too hope for good days in the new place. Thanks very much, Richard.

  29. My sympathy for your situation… just glad you have all these friends to help.I hope once you get into the new place you will feel very much at homw

    • Thank you, coolperson. I’m pretty sure I’ll feel at home in the new place, once this move is over with… my chief worry is for my cat. Cats get even more connected to a physical place than human beings…

      • Yes,I was wondering too about your cat.We used to put butter on their paws when we moved…!

      • Yes, I was wondering about Nechama, too. Hopefully, the transition will be a smooth one for you both, as you both have one another to help you through the changes. An extra scratch or two behind the ears couldn’t hurt. Or a pat on the head. Best wishes.

        • Well, I have to tell you that Nechama has it very good in life. In all likelihood she’s got the best conditions of any cat in all of Jerusalem. She eats what I eat and more, and often eats from my plate with me. She has a number of places around the house where she can hide or enjoy solitude when visitors she doesn’t care for (like my grandchildren) show up, and she’s an enthusiastic connoisseur of jazz. She has a place on the window sill where she can do bird watching, and has cat friends that she spends part of her time with. She has her own door to come and go as she likes. And of course, she gets a lot of love from me as well…

  30. Thank you for this post, Shimon, and gentle peace in the transition/transformation. So happy Janne and her 4-leggeds have provided soft refuge between homes…there is a grief to every shift in life, a part of us dying to the new and farewells to ways of being and in places that hold our energy/memories…no way around this, I suppose, only through, to the new spaces and invitations…I look forward to the photographs and poems seeded by these changes; I pray for your peace; I send my love. No BS.

    • I was just about to move into a hotel, when Janne offered me this beautiful solution, and I am sure that there’s no where else where I would feel so comfortable. She’s made a difficult period into a relaxing vacation, and I’m grateful. You’re right, of course, grief is a part of life… not just the shifts. We have our ups and downs, and no matter how well we do in life, there are always tests that seem measured to our ability and what we’ve learned from living this life. I hope to continue to create and to experiment, and have the feeling that just at this time, my photography will benefit. I use it to distract myself from the sad thoughts that come to mind with the move. Thanks you for your beautiful comment. I so appreciate it, Kitty.

  31. Sometimes I’ve thought about turning off comments on my blog, not that I write anything of much to create controversy, but sometimes it’s just good to post a picture and let it be what it is in my head. I can relate to your posting the poem (that I loved) and then having to discuss/explain.
    Enjoy many more years in your new abode, building new memories there.

    • You know, on the one hand, there are times when I don’t want to discuss something like a poem… or a photograph. But on the other hand, there is something very exciting about the give and take between writer and reader, that I think is a great improvement on the days in which there was more of a divide between the creative artist and his readers or viewers. I am very grateful to have lived to see these contemporary times. Thank you very much for your good wishes Angeline.

  32. I enjoyed you post vey much Shimon as always. I’m grateful to you for your explanation of idiom, ‘bull shit’. There is endless fascination in the etymologies of words and the origins of idioms alike.
    I started my blog, fully intending to be anonymous but as time has gone on, more of my true self has been revealed and Chillbrook has become a nickname whilst my true identity is no longer a secret to anyone who cares to dig. This no longer worries me but the name Chillbrook has become synonymous with my photography and a Google search for Chillbrook will bring up my blog and my photographs so this is how I will remain.
    Good luck with you move!

    • So glad you enjoyed the post, Chillbrook. I know that often the pseudonym becomes more important than the actual name of a creative artist. Mark Twain is an example of that. I don’t think that there are any real rules for the creative artist, in so far as the way he presents himself to the public. I was just speaking of my own feelings on the matter, and why it was that I chose to reveal myself, including the fact that sometimes even though I do reveal myself, there are certain aspects that I don’t care to share. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you, as well as your photography, and personally, I will always think of you as Chillbrook, and enjoy your gifts as such.

  33. Wow Shimon…i’m amazed to see how many people you reach with your words and pictures…I want to wish you mazal tov on the move and I see you’re in good hands with Janne helping out.
    I remember the many times I made the trek from Nachlaot to your place in
    Neve Yaakov….sometimes to listen to music together, sometimes to teach guitar to your son, Gamliel. I’ll never forget the Pesach Seder with you and your wonderful family. I always made the long trip back to Nachlaot filled with new energy and creativity that your company always inspired in me.
    Thank you for your friendship!

    Love, Ted

    P.S. please say hello to Janne

    • I was so glad to hear from you, Ted. And of course, delivered your message to Janne. I didn’t think you knew her. Thought that you had sent regards just because I had mentioned her on the blog. But she remembers you well, and asked me to send regards to you too. Once again, a circle in this small world. Yes, I remember our wonderful times together, and you knew our home from long ago. How wonderful it would be to get together once again, this time in our new home. Sending my best wishes to you and yours, Ted, with love always.

  34. Yours is the best read of the day, Shimon. And I’m not bull shitting you! I do hope the final segment of the move goes OK. We’ve been in our house now for thirty years and the time is approaching when we really should downsize as the saying goes and move into a house that is not Victorian (as ours is), is easier and cheaper to heat and maintain etc etc. But clearing out the accumulated jumble of thirty years is but one small part of the problem. My wife is far more sentimental than me, but even she now realizes that it might be a good idea to move, but not for a year or two!. So the clearing continues and one day we will get to make that move hopefully before ‘fate’ plays a decisive role and forces a move. During my life as a GP (family doctor) I was witness to many situations when as people aged, a medical problem – fracture hip, stroke or similar – precipitated a move that they no longer had a control over. And then there were the others, where people kept putting off moving and then finally reached the stage where they were just too old to cope with everything a move entailed and so had to stay put and they and their house around them slowly decayed. Neither situation is good. The time to move is when you are young enough to cope with it, are in charge of it, and have the energy to enjoy your new home and its neighbourhood. That is fully my intention!

    • Yes, I can well imagine that there are a lot of reasons for moving after a long time. In my case, it wasn’t so much down sizing as moving to a more comfortable neighborhood. And it looks like the new home will be more comfortable too, from a certain point of view. It has a very nice deck which will be a pleasure in the warmer parts of the year, and is closer to some nicer shops and restaurants. Such things as are highly subjective, and I don’t really know if any of it matters. But as you say, it might be better to move on my own two feet rather than to be carried to my next residence by six friends… (I smile). Thank you very much for your kind words, Andy. I am always happy to amuse my friends, and appreciate your coming by. And wish you an easy move, to a home that will suit you best for this chapter. I don’t usually admit to being sentimental, but I think I’m more like your wife… the whole project of this move unsettled me… seemed too much. But I think once it’s over, I’ll be able to enjoy the results.

  35. You are priceless. So much feeling, thought and humor – and sincerity – go into your posts. Oh, and intelligence! May you adjust without too much discomfort. It sounds (and looks) like you have a wonderful network of friends. Near and far! Take care Shimon, you are loved.

    • Thanks so much for your very sweet words. I do feel blessed to have such good friends, and grateful for my luck in life. And we’ve been getting the first signs of winter this week. It’s getting dark earlier and it’s cold. The warmth of friends certainly gives courage. Thank you, bluebrightly

  36. I understood you the first time, Shimon. That’s why I left the comment that I did and I’m not a poet or one to read poetry, so I went over your poem carefully many times. I read your poem from a different perspective perhaps: the quintessential, wandering Jew who is always uprooted. I understand this is not the case, but there is meaning in everything and I felt that from your poem, as well. It’s my ancestors, who got all the way to the Pale only to cross Europe fleeing the Pogroms, and then crossed the Atlantic in steerage to come to America. It’s my grandparents’ generation in Chicago, who couldn’t live in homes that they owned because the neighborhoods were restricted, which meant no Jews allowed. They grew up in rental apartments in the city and frequently moved as their lot in life improved (or diminished during the Depression). This is why home has such meaning.

    I never dealt with that, but if you average all my moves and all the different states and cities, it probably comes to 1 for every year of my life. So, I am the quintessential, wandering Jew as well, not that it was by choice most of the time. And for several years now due to my health issues, I literally have had no home at all. I live in a motel room. It has 4 walls and a roof (and internet access), so I don’t complain. I could live in the street like many in this neighborhood.

    Yet, I understand how attached one can be to a home and all the memories that are contained within its walls–stone or not. Sometimes, we need the tangible as to not forget; it all makes perfect sense to me. To say goodbye to something so familiar is not an easy thing.

    Per the anonymity issue, my blog is as anonymous as it can be (and it could be more) because it deals with health issues for the most part and I drag inept doctors through the mud and while they are also anonymous, I live in such a litigious society that I would be sued if they could prove that their identity was revealed in any manner. I have no remorse for what I post because many of my health issues are from their failures to diagnose. So, my blog is anonymous for that reason and while it appears sleepy and I don’t post much, I have a large, search engine crowd that finds me as my diseases are rare and people are lost. I wan’t in my right mind when I uploaded a partial photo of my face after my cat’s cancer diagnosis, but I’ve kept the photo up. I suppose it’s because I’m rather done with things at this point. I have no idea why bloggers who write on benign subjects are anonymous, but to each their own. And on here, you know me by my Hebrew name. In all honesty, I don’t care for either name.

    I wish you well transitioning to your new abode and I trust that once your books and photos and the rest of your treasures are in place, it will begin to feel like home again. If I have learned anything, it is that we are extremely adaptable creatures. With a new view to see from the balcony and a new neighborhood to explore with your camera, I’m sure you will be up to your old antics in no time. A very, very long comment, my friend.
    Leah x (who is weary, as my name implies)

    • You write that you understand that this is not the case, my dear Leah… but what you say about your ancestors is just as true of mine. We both come from a people who were forced to move on and on because of a lack of acceptance of their neighbors… and sometimes great cruelty, after being exiled from our homeland. And I’m sure that many Jews carry the collective cries of generations in their hearts. And I believe that was part of the reason I never wanted to move. I could have moved to a so called ‘better place’ years ago. But I was so grateful to have my home, which was truly good enough for me, and where we raised another generation… I just couldn’t imagine moving. But just as we get less flexible as we get older, we become more receptive to the ideas of our friends… especially our younger friends, who are surer… more confident… sometimes seem to have all the answers. I’m truly sorry to hear that you are still suffering from temporary digs. I hope the day will come soon, when you’ll have a home that will supply you with warmth and security, and wise and clever friends will join there and amuse you for hours on end. If you were within walking distance, I would visit you with pleasure, a flask in my hand, and a cigarette hanging from my lip, and tell you sad and funny stories.

      • Well, Shimon, I suspected there was more to it, but didn’t want to presume since you seemed rather agitated. Haha. So, we can say we are on the same page and that there is a greater meaning in home for us. I often feel the weight of millions of people on my achy shoulders and presume you can relate.

        If you are in for a long walk (and boat ride), feel free to drop by and share stories–an Israeli can handle my neighborhood with ease. But no smoking, Mister! Oy vey, that’s the next thing we’ll have to work on. 🙂

        • Well, all that I can say, is that I try to be very open minded and forgiving towards my friends… if they don’t smoke, I will never force them to do so at my house, and when I’m at their homes, I expect them to receive me and my bad habits with the same sort of tolerance.

          • Hmmm. Perhaps it’s an American attitude as smoking has largely disappeared in certain circles, even though we have the Marlboro Man. Sounds more like the Asians or Europeans who tend to smoke still and it is much more acceptable. You can’t smoke anywhere public for the most part in the US and while many do smoke in this blue-collar city I live in, hardly anyone does where I’m from as they’re very health-conscious with their wheat grass and yoga. I’m allergic to smoke, so I guess I’d have to sit upwind from you in the parking lot here. Fair enough.

            • I really have my doubts about trying to improve the world by making new laws. Most of those experiments have just added to the misery. It reminds me a bit of prohibition in your country… when they outlawed drinking. Seems to me that it’s far better when each of us tries to improve himself… or herself. But then, I’m just looking in from the outside.

              • I have some long-dead relatives who did quite well during Prohibition. We’re not sure where one of them is exactly, but somewhere near Chicago.

                Well, aside from the current mess in the US, I’m still a liberal Democrat and due to my career with low-income populations and life experience, I don’t believe that people can just do the right thing. Hence, I’m a Democrat! The US is so different and we could have a 10-hour talk about all that and you’re there and I’m here, but we can agree to disagree I hope. I wish people wouldn’t act like animals, but they do.

  37. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    Different incarnations… like a Persian rug: I liked that, Shimon.

    I understood you from your first word. I’ve never turned comments off, & am curious when at times I’ve seen you have – but now I understand why you do. I do get to feeling there’s too much responding and not enough writing being done by me OFTEN, and sometimes don’t turn on my computer because I feel compelled to respond before getting into writing! I mean, it’s not decent to be ignored, you know. So learning you turn off comments for that reason, I get it more now. Good move. I understand.

    Now re the bullshit story – you’re so funny! 🙂 I had not known there was much of a difference between shit of species, & had not known the history. Re you moving, I truly hope you are happy “wherever” and to be honest, Shimon, I sense you would be. 🙂

    • So glad you liked the post, Noeleen. And in doesn’t surprise me that you understood. We, who have gone through hell… for a short visit, or an eternity or two, are able to recognize fellow graduates, and tread quietly in the presence of misery… even if the reasons aren’t obvious. Thank you for your good wishes. I’m beginning to find myself absorbed by the adventure even if I remain completely uncertain about where this period is leading me. Thank you for your comment. I value your visits.

  38. Hope it all turns out well. 40 years is a long time to live in one place – it would be hard for me to move, but if it’s the right thing to do, then don’t hesitate, and remember the goodness of your former home too.

    • Thank you for your hope, Rick… I have no idea where this is going… I just heard today that there are problems with the papers on the house I was going to buy. But since it’s all in the hands of friends and the lawyer, I am off on other adventures, while this long story is unfolding… I too hope that it will all work out well, whichever way it goes. Human plans are usually so optimistic. But for an old man such as myself… the perspective is a bit different. Thanks so much for your comment.

  39. I’ve gained a new respect or “bull shit”. Ocourse we old chicken farmers use chicken shit. All the bbest in yur new home

    • Many years ago, when I was growing bananas, they used chicken shit, and quite honestly, I did not find the smell as pleasing as cow shit. Thank you very much for your good wishes, Barbara. The whole process of the move has turned my life upside down, but I’m doing my best to deal with it well.

  40. Pingback: Looking Down and More… | The World Is a Book...

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