taken in context


As I sit down to write this post, the sun is streaming into my kitchen. Charlie the cat is cleaning himself in a sort of lazy half hearted fashion, and I am surrounded by fruit and flowers, and the smell of a cake prepared for the coming Sabbath arising from the kitchen stove, discernable despite the clouds of cigarette smoke that I have created over the writing table.


On the surface, one might suppose that all was well. But I have been suffering from a cold, a flu or a virus in the last few days… in fact, since the eve of the new year… and maybe even since the beginning of this week, when I had a most unusual incident of a flat tire. In fact, I tried to write about it earlier this morning, and didn’t like the way it turned out. A flat tire is a rare event for me. I think I haven’t had one for about 20 years. And this particular flat tire forced me to realize that a lot of things have changed… including the way the wheels of automobiles are manufactured… since I last changed a tire. And this first incident was followed by others in which bad luck, poor taste, and social misdemeanors caused me a few embarrassments.


Could it be just a coincidence? Or was that flat tire a forecast of the mean mood that assailed me along with the minor illness which soon had me choking and unable to swallow a piece of food… or even to swallow a gulp of water. Was the physical illness a manifestation of the mean mood… or was it just the reverse? I don’t know. But I’ve reached the point where I don’t trust myself. I started writing three times today, and each time, I found it completely uninspiring to read what I’d just written. Looked for some recent pictures, but nothing really grabbed me. So forgive me, my friends… this is just to let you know that I’m still here. And with a little luck, I’ll have something to say next week… and meantime, I’m going to read some good things that others have written.


92 responses to “taken in context

  1. I love the photos Shimon and looked at each fruit carefully to see that we have the same fruit 🙂

    I’m sorry you’re unwell – I’ve also been dealing with a cold/flu/cough/loss of voice (!) since before christmas – 2 weeks now and I am well and truely over it (and grumpy).

    As for the flat tire and whatever followed…I’m sorry you’ve had to go through that! I couldn’t physically do it so I’m glad I haven’t been confronted with one for about 5 years now…only twice in my life though!

    • Thanks Bodhi. Glad you liked the pictures. I’m coming out of the flu just now. It was kind of difficult while it lasted, but we have to keep on going, and it’s a well known part of winter too. Wishing you health and happiness in the new year.

  2. Nice to read this post, specially the visual words made me feel I am sitting by you and experiencing the environment. Happy New Year 2014 to you and your family. Thanks!

  3. Oh you poor thing, sounds like you’ve had a right old run of bad luck. I’m a firm believer the negativity attracts negativity, and an illness can lead to us not focusing properly and so the mistakes sneak in…..if you know what I mean.
    I’m sending you a massive dose of good luck,,sunshine and positive energy, I hope it streams through your heart and mind and helps you feel better soon. Stroke the wonderful animals in your life, they always help….and here’s to you kicking the flu into touch. I’ve had that this week too and it can be horribly draining.
    My dear boy…..of course you can trust yourself!!! Always!!! You can even write eloquently about bad luck. Lovely pics….they say the tide is turning to me…xxx

    • Yes, it was definitely a round of bad luck, but I’m already coming out of it. I remember flues that lasted a month. And that would be a bit much for me. But fortunately, what you sent me… sunshine and positive energy… did arrive, and did gladden my heart. Thank you Dina for going to work on it so quickly. Now I have a whole lot to do to catch up with all the life I missed while being sick for a couple of days. But that’s part of the package. Hope you are feeling well now too. Always so good to hear from you. xxx

  4. Oh, Shimon, I’m so sorry the New Year has come in with such a string of utter unpleasantness; on the other hand, perhaps the garbage is out of the way and the rest of the year will be so bright you’ll need shades to view it. 🙂

    I love the colors and compositions of the photographs you’ve chosen, just love them; so, despite your dissatisfaction, know you’re sharing joy as far away as Wisconsin, where we’re deep in snow and experiencing -30 to -40 wind chills…Your photos have brought sunshine and warmth to my day. The flowers, especially, lightened my heart. So colorful and beautifully lit.

    I believe our health is inextricably connected to our experience of life and the ways we process it. When we’re tired, depressed, stressed, angry, anxious, it seems we’re more prone to illness, which makes us more of the above…But I don’t believe we “cause” our illnesses…Life demands more of us at times than we’re ready for, or didn’t expect, or can handle, given other demands. You’ve been through a lot of transitions lately and that’s stressful, even if the changes are welcome or have been hopefully set in place and planned for willingly.

    And feeling physically out of sorts can lay a veneer over other incoming energy, making everything and everyone else, however kind their intentions, feel prickly and irritating. I’m surprised you had the energy to try and write a post three times. I’d have said, “To hell with it,” and gone back to bed with my 4-leggeds sprawled all around me…so, frankly, I’m impressed by the honesty, effort, and beauty your post offers and represents.

    Go gently, dear friend, and take good care of yourself. May you regain your balance and health, and the deep peace of sweet healing. Sending love.

    • Thank you very much for your very positive comment, Kitty. Yes, I have had experiences with those great colds in the past, and it is quite a challenge… though it is usually dry, which is an advantage. I’m so glad that you like the pictures, and enjoyed the colors. That’s the easy way for me to relate, when I’m having a hard time… to put the focus on the visual. I agree with what you say about the connection between moods and health, though I’ve felt it worked both ways at different times. Sometimes I catch a bug like this, and it affects my mood in a rather obvious way. Fortunately, I’m already beginning to come out of this flu, and enjoy life more. My four legged friends have been very attentive and consoling while I was sick. They could feel it immediately. And I also am very lucky to have a few very nice two legged friends, who have been good and patient with me. Thank you so much for your love and message of healing. All will be well soon.

  5. Hope you’re feeling better soon, Shimon. All the best!

  6. Hope you feel better soon. I really enjoyed the pictures you included with this post…the vibrant colors of the fruit and flowers are quite refreshing on a cold winter day.

    • Thanks a lot Kari Ann. I was feeling pretty bad at the time… but even so, was able to enjoy the beauty of those colors… sort of kept me going. Thanks for your comment.

  7. I am so grateful to hear that you had a flat tire and that it wasn’t something worse, like a car accident! Things will smooth over, and I look forward to your upcoming posts. With love and light, and peace my friend!

    • Very kind of you to look at it that way. A flat tire is really a minor mishap. For me, the major difficulty was finding out that I hadn’t kept up with the way cars have been changing over the years. Thank you very much for your comment. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

  8. What wonderful photos – glorious colours. And I do hope you are fully recovered very soon.

  9. I’ve been out of action for over a week – just returning to getting dressed and sitting up and eating now – and when I’m in that “state” I’m unable to think coherently let alone write. So I appreciate you jotting a few thoughts down and sharing some colour from your life. Wishing you a speedy and full recovery my friend.

  10. How pleasant and joyful to be surrounded by fruit and flowers, and the smell of a cake prepared… Hope you feel better soon, Mr. Shimon. These are beautiful photos!

    • Yes, I have to admit that the conditions of my illness were quite good… though I felt bad at the time. Still, I enjoyed the sights, and got a chance to do some reading. And now I’m feeling quite good. Thanks, Amy.

  11. I’ve read a few other blogs in the last few days with the same sentiments of finding it difficult to post anything and confusion as to why this is happening. I find myself in the same boat….is it possibly burnout after a long year? My prescription is rest from all things internet, and I like yours of reading good things. I like the sunlight streaming into your kitchen. I hope you feel better soon.

    • For me, the problem wasn’t burn out. I keep blogging on a low flame. It was just the flu, Angeline, which got me down. Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you liked the pictures. That’s what I found encouraging when I was feeling sick.

  12. I suppose that explains why you have been on my mind so much lately, like I somehow sensed that things were not well with you. I’m sorry to hear you are not feeling well, and especially that you are presently enmeshed in that space where a mean mood seems inescapable, leaving you feeling out of sorts and cranky and generally just kind of awful. I am encouraged that you even managed to post anything at all, and as is usually the case, your photos are quite inspiring, even if your mood doesn’t match up to your photographic eye, at least for today.

    Sincerely hoping you get to feeling better soon, both physically and psychologically and temperamentally. You’ve taken a step already in the right direction in sharing how you feel, and in stretching your capabilities to share the photos you’ve chosen for today. It is hard not to allow yourself to be overcome with that feeling of loss, in whatever way it manifests itself, (flat tires, living situation, loss of loved ones, missing Nechama), but my prayer for you is one of quiet peacefulness, and a return to good health. Something that has helped me in the past is to pamper myself just a bit, so that I can lean into the kindness, and begin moving away from the shadows. Be well, Shimon. Your voice is a treasure, and we will be missing you until you are able to return to yourself again. Until then, my prayers will be pointed in your direction, and my spirit will be with you.

    • Well N, I hope I get another chance to be on your mind… this time when I’m feeling good and smiling. I was feeling miserable at the time… and I do tend to take things seriously when I’m sick. But things have vastly improved, and today I’m kind of enjoying myself… though in strange circumstances. We had a state funeral today, and I spent quite some time thinking of life and death… and looking at life from a slightly removed perspective. It brought me a great calm. I’m happy you liked the pictures, though. Because I’m usually looking for inspiration… even when I’m miserable. And though I tend to think a lot, I often find my inspiration in visual images. I thank you for your prayer for me, N. Just telling me that was a gesture of a friend, and it’s things like that, that give us strength when we’re down. It’s true, I do miss Nechama very much. She’s staying with my son and his family, and from what I hear, she seems to be adjusting… better than I would have expected. I appreciated your comment very much.

      • Actually, you are on my mind quite often, Shimon. Sometimes because I am wishing you well, and sometimes because I pause and wonder what you might see if you were observing something that I happen to be looking at, and sometimes because a particularly wonderful thing happens, and my smile reaches all the way to Jerusalem. You have generously shared encouragement over the time we have begun to know one another, and your voice is one that is always welcome.

        I did see in the news about the state funeral, and wondered how that might be affecting your day, or how you are settling in at the new place. Any news of Jerusalem always has me thinking about you, and your circle of life. Please don’t trouble yourself with a reply. Just know that there are lots of times you cross my mind, and often, that also means you catch me smiling. 🙂

  13. These are beautiful still life pictures Shimon. I shall look forward to your post next week.

    • Very glad you enjoyed the pictures, Chellbrook. Those scenes brought me a little pleasure on an otherwise very difficult day. Thanks for your comment. It is always very good to hear from you.

  14. The flat tire must be another virus that’s going around, as I also had one just after Christmas, the first for many, many years, and now I also have a cold and a cough that refuses to go away. Hope we both feel better soon, Shimonz. I love your beautiful photos. They look so healthy. 🙂

    • Yes, I think that viruses always try to catch us by surprise… that’s just like them, to go for the tires. But don’t worry. We’ll outlast them… and come out of this smiling. You know, viruses can’t smile. They’re so busy trying to take over the world, they’re serious all the time. Thanks for your kind words about my photos. And wishing you great health and happiness.

  15. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

    I hope you feel better soon…
    the flowers are gorgeous..!
    I was thinking about your flat tire…maybe it was to show you that when the other mishaps happened they are fixable too…all in the cogs of being human with human mishaps…let the air out of thinking about them….
    just a thought….I do hope you are feeling better…for the New Year was with a New Moon ….one to be aware of new beginnings….
    you’re words will come back….you are born to write…and besides I am selfish I love coming here to hear about your world…I would love to visit but no it is not in the realms of my dreams ..well okay in my dreams, but not reality ?

    Sending you whispers of new moon energy for you to get well and smile again Shimon it will be okay…
    Take Care…You Matter…

    • Thank you so much for your very positive comment, Maryrose. I liked your interpretation of the flat tire. In our culture, we’re very aware of the new moon. It is always a sort of minor holiday… sometimes lasting two days. I’m so glad that you enjoy your visits here… and you’re always welcome with open arms. And I can tell you, that one of the things I discovered in this period of my life… after I agreed to this move of my home to a new building… that life is full of the unexpected. I just opened the door, and all of a sudden the world around me rearranged itself, and I’ve been exposed to one miracle after another. I thought I was too old to have such adventures… and all the same, it happened. You never know what’s around the corner. My very best wishes to you too.

  16. Hi Shimon. Dare I say it? Well OF Course I will….Take two aspirin and call me in the morning. I will (at your request) not hassle you about smoking, but I’d like to!! The fruit looks delicious I’m told ( by my wife) that honey and lemon and whiskey are easy cures. She’s a nurse practitioner now and I’m Only a doctor. 😉 I’ve had more flat tires that I’d like to not think about but I do have some good stories about them. Learned most of my swear words because my Dad would be changing one or fixing a tube (remember those days) and he sure let loose verbally.
    Hope for a speedy recovery and don’t be spreading it around either. 🙂
    Warm regards.

    • That’s a very funny comment. You put a smile on my face when I read it… though at the time, I didn’t have the strength to reply. Actually, that was close to the way I looked at it… except that I didn’t really need the aspirin. I like to listen to what my body is saying when I’m in pain or suffering. But I figure, in the end it’ll go away or it’ll kill me. Either way, it won’t last forever. And for most of my life, I never went to see a doctor. I was lucky. Born strong… and with a fairly good intuition, I suppose. As for flat tires, I had my share too, when I was young. Now I haven’t had one for a long time. I remember changing a tire in pouring rain, and cold… and my mother was in the car giving me helpful hints. It was on a hill too. But I kept smiling. Every time she would give me some advice, I would ask her for more details… as if there was no way I could change that tire without detailed advice from her. It was a lot of fun… This time, I really had a problem doing it. I was thinking of calling the road service. But then I called Janne first, and she came to help me. Can you imagine the indignity of having a younger woman coming to save my ass. And she taught me how girls loosen the bolts on the wheel. They stand on the wrench, using their weight. I was humbled by her superior practicality. But there was fun to this adventure too. Thanks for the comment. As you can imagine, I’m feeling much better by now. Anxious to get into trouble all over again.

  17. Oh, my! I hope you don’t have the flu! A flat tire would send me into a total fit! I hate mechanical failure of any kind. Anyway, regardless of your bad luck, your flat tire and your mean mood, you posted some beautiful, happy images. So, all is not lost! Feel better as soon as you can manage it. 🙂

    • Ha, George… I take mechanical failure for granted. Anything man made will break down. A mountain won’t break down. Nor the sea… usually. But buy a car, and it’s only a matter of time till it breaks down. And computers break down even faster… Of course, I had a Swiss watch once that ran for about 50 years before I had to fix it. Now, if you buy a watch, they don’t break either. You just end up buying a new one anyway… or someone gives you a gift. Thanks for the kind words about my images. You’re such a kind audience. I’m willing to show you my pictures any time…

  18. Great to have for companion a cat, Charlie surely inspires you and… ups… (there they are again! Arthur and Hannibal are trying to lie down on my keyboard)… I said that at times cats just try to get your attention doesn’t matter how! and mine every now and then will not let me write!
    It is important to live the moment, Shimon. Forget the bad luck of the flat tire and the rest of the situations that you were embarrassed… it happens.
    I find beautiful the images, even if you states “out of season” of the fruit and flowers that you gives us.
    By the way, the influences of the cold season has now arrived, and against viruses you know it, there is no cure! I dislike the drugs you may take to prevent it (all craps medicine which always have side effects… but I don’t enter into the controversy regarding the pharmaceutical companies!) Since many years I cure myself and my family with acupuncture and naturopathy… even my mother who is eighty years old, does it.
    Il is said that the baths in the Dead Sea do wonders 😉 and these is a resource very close to you!
    In Berenice we had lovely time, for the soul and the body to relax a bit! I wish you serenity into the new year, dear Shimon.
    And please, take well care of your positive thinking 😀 claudine

    PS. don’t forget to place a new tire in the car at the place of the spare-one… not as I once did… realizing my forgetfulness the next time I had again a flat tire!

    • Yes… cats know a lot about life and death… without ever discussing it. I find them an inspiration. And when Georgia was living her… that beautiful white cat with long fur… she used to throw herself on the keyboard, trying to block every key. It was a challenge, because she left a lot of hairs between the key. But when you love a cat, it’s amazing what you’ll take from them. You’re right about the cold though. Even when I don’t get sick, I often get sad… just from the cold. And the dead sea is very recuperative and healing. The problem is that the water leaves my body feeling very oily. And soaping it off always seems like so much work. But like you said, positive thinking is the greatest healer. I’ve never had that problem though… of not replacing the spare. What I do is change the tire… and then I get the punctured tire repaired, and have them change it back. And the spare goes back to the trunk. Thanks for the comment, Claudine.

  19. Sounds like everything is a little flat… I hope you are on the mend, dear Shimon. Best wishes sent your way.

  20. I understand. I think that we all go through periods in this way. I know I do. I hope you are feeling better and writing again soon. Until then, relax and rest. Wishing you the very best.

    • Thank you very much, Ann. Things are beginning to fall into place again, and I’m feeling better. That’s part of winter… having colds and the flu. But I find it hard to suffer the strain on my health. Thanks for the good wishes.

  21. Seems like you have caught the flatness from the tyre and got tired out too with the cold….
    How about going to bed?That might help.Give in and succumb.A hot bath can help as the steam aids breathing tubes

  22. Sorry you’re feeling crumby, Shimon. I had a few days like that recently as well, though perhaps not to the same degree. I’m not sure if a distressing relationship-oriented incident sent me over the edge with a cold, or the on-coming cold influenced my relationship. . . You have the right attitude, though – stop struggling with it and wait it out . . . soon it will be an unpleasant set of fading memories, and you’ll be beyond it.

    • From my experience, Rick… relationships can really run us aground healthwise too. Our spirit is what enables us to deal with the world at large… and a weak spirit is usually the beginning of bad luck and weakness. My best wishes to you for smooth sailing from here out… Thanks for the comment.

  23. Shimon – I have no doubt that you’ll work your way through this rough spot. But I concur with the recommendation above that some honey and whiskey will do you good. I’d bring another bottle of bourbon for you, but won’t be able to make that trip right now.

    • Thanks a lot, my friend. When I wrote this, I was really under the weather. But fortunately things have only improved. What a blessing it was, that we drank from the same bottle not so long ago… who knows… we might find ourselves on another common adventure one day soon…

  24. Feel better Shimon! It only seems right in that you’ve helped me feel better about one thing or another — and it usually comes in from unexpected angles! But that’s what you do. Drink deep! Dan

  25. Shimon, I recently had a flat tire and I really can’t remember how long it has been since I had one. I was along a busy expressway and had to take the time to read the owners manual just to know where to put the bumper jack. Hope you are feeling better soon.

    • Yes, it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with all the changes, John. Forgive me for taking so long to answer… the flu and very intensive changes in my life has been distracting, to say the least. But I appreciate your comment… and love your photography too.

  26. Hope you’re feeling better.

  27. Shimon – I hope you are feeling better. I was trying to remember the name of someone special to you, but I’m not sure if this is correct … so at least I’m trying to lift your spirit. http://youtu.be/rmWUyOBmwdU

  28. Sorry to hear you are under the weather, Shimon. Hope this week brings better things. All the best.

  29. First things first! רפואה שלמה! I wish you a speedy recovery from the flu/cold/virus, whatever it was.
    Secondly – let’s hope this was a sign that you’ve got all the bad things out of the way in the first week of the New Year and can now look forward to a year of good health, cars that work smoothly and safely, and plenty of inspiration for your writing.
    Thirdly – the pictures are beautiful 🙂

    • Appreciate all the positive interpretations of the signs, Shimona. When I was down, I was barely able to care… but fortunately, this too has passed. Now it’s on to some more adventure. Thanks for your smile, and that you liked the pictures.
      שנשמע בשורות טובות בקרוב ובימינו

  30. Blessings to you and all of those you love. I am praying for you to enjoy good health. I am praying that your creative spirit is nurtured. Rest and celebrate much magic in the coming year.

  31. Pingback: Three Readers & the Art of Blogging | The Chapel

  32. I am sorry to hear that you had influenza too, like me! Especially in the first days of the New Year… I am still dealing… and yes, it really knocked me down badly I don’t remember something like that before… So I can understand you dear Shimon. But your photographs are so beautiful, you really carried them all, on my desk 🙂 I loved them. And cat too! Sitting on there as a person… 🙂 Blessing and happiness to you all and get well soon. Thank you. Happy New Year. love, nia

    • What can we do, my dear Nia. That is the great equalizer. But how I admire all those smiles you send. You are always a sign of love and good spirits, and getting a message from you is always a blessing. My best wishes to you too, for a very good year, with health and happiness to you and your loved ones!

  33. Dear Shimon,
    It is good to hear from you. I hope you are feeling better–it sounds like a very bad virus. Everything–especially a flat tire–seems hard when you aren’t feeling well. Lots of rest, orange juice, and chicken soup will help. Thinking of you, and wishing you happiness and good health for the New Year.

    • I didn’t bother to even try and answer comments till I started to feel better. It’s still quite cold in Jerusalem, but there is sunshine, and better spirits these days. Thanks so much for your good wishes. My best to you too. May this be a wonderful year for us all, You’re so very sweet.

  34. Who needs inspiration when you can produce a post as flowing and natural as this one. You’ve created a unique domestic scene that is very easy to picture in very few words. You have a lovely talent.

    Wish you better.
    M x

    • Dear Menhir, you give me too much credit. But I am happy that I’ve managed to weave a little of the blessing into my complaints and whining with poor health. Thank you very much.

  35. I think illness often strikes when one’s spirits are low and this leaves the bodily defence system vulnerable. On the other hand, the Shiatsu practitioner I used to see for a frozen shoulder was a great believer in the proposition that having a bad cold/flu was the means by which the body re-built the defences. So see how well you are doing. You posted those lovely, heart-lifting photos, and wrote a very good post that people identify with. You are re-gathering your resources for the bright year ahead. Trust me: you can trust yourself!

    • I agree with you completely, Tish. We are one with it all… the physical, the emotional, the mental and the spiritual are all interwoven… and when the threads begin to wrestle loose, we lose spirit, and one difficulty just seems to pile on the other. Thank you for your encouraging words. I appreciated it when I was sick, and now that I’m feeling much better, take pleasure in thanking you.

  36. Once upon a time, people seemed to get them quite regularly, and you’d see people along the highway struggling to put a spare tire on and make it to the nearest garage. I haven’t seen or had one in decades. Sorry you had a bad experience – usually these things happen at the very worst time.

    I hope that you are now rested and refreshed and that your car is properly tired but you are not.

    • Yes, we can count on difficulties happening at the worst time, my dear yearstricken… but it’s true that car tires seem to be more resistant these days… or are the highways… maybe we’ve learned to be careful over the years…? Whatever… fewer flat tires. Feeling much better now, and ready to get into trouble again. Thanks so much for the encouragement.

  37. Hang in there Shimon. We all have those days and weeks. Take care of yourself and feel better.

  38. When we lived at our previous house, it seemed like our cars were getting an awful lot of flat tires. We moved away from our obnoxious next-door neighbor almost ten years ago, and I don’t think we’ve had a single flat tire since then. Cause and effect? Not provable in a court of law, but I’m convinced.

    • Sounds like a very bad neighbor. Glad you got out of there. A good part of the reason I agreed to this move I’m going through right now was that I now have neighbors who litter… it was very hard to decide whether something like that was insufferable… but then when combining all the things that bothered me, it seemed rational. Now that I’m going through this major relocation, I’m not sure anymore… but if it were regular flat tires… I think it would have been an easier decision. Thanks for the comment, Steve.

  39. Please do stop smoking, Shimon. I can tell you from personal experience that colds linger longer when you are a smoker. Be well.

    • From my own personal experience, I can tell you that one of the problems for me, of being ill, is that I manage to sin a lot less. My evil inclination gets close to zero. So it gives me a relief… and may I say a thrill as well, to perform such an unhealthy and antisocial act as smoking at times like that. It really brings a little fun to a sick situation.

  40. It is so nice to see you enveloped and embraced by all of your friends here, Shimon. I’m a little later than usual with this post and I think you’ve likely recovered, from your virus and from your mean mood, whichever one caused the other. 😉

    Those are beautiful images and I’m glad they brought you happiness when you were down. Take care, Shimon.

    • Thanks very much, Scott. It was good to get these positive responses. And thankfully, I have recovered. But life continues to dole our surprises. And now it looks like I have another ‘temporary’ move ahead of me. There is always so much to learn…

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