the post that went missing

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Shadow on the Wall
(when Nechama looked at me)

Back in the day when I was looking for contemporary literature that would move and inspire me as much as some of the literature I read in my younger days, I asked for recommendations from my readers. I haven’t yet finished reading all those books that were recommended, but I did read ‘Shadow of the Wind’ that was suggested by a number of readers. That volume offers both a story and a story within the story. It tells the tale of a man who discovers a writer he really loves, but it turns out that there has been someone who’s been chasing down all of his books and destroying them. We find a hint that the fellow who burns this writer’s books is the devil himself. The suspense around the hounding of the wonderful writer, and the rarity of his works provides an important ingredient in the telling of the story. I couldn’t help but think about the possibility of such a thing happening in our day. But of course, once some writing or picture has been uploaded to the internet, it is hard to imagine that anyone would succeed in making it disappear.

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Black & Blue asks ‘what is a blog?’

And then, this very weekend, a short while after I published my most recent post on this blog, I started getting mail from readers that they had been informed by different ‘feeds’ that I had written a new post, but were unable to find the article after following the link. And to make the matter all the more interesting, the post that they couldn’t find was called, “It’s a cruel world”. My imagination came to life as I contemplated the possibilities. Could this be the result of hacking by the ‘league of positive thinkers’ in an attempt to put an end to negative comments about the world, or the spread of sorrow by way of the pens of pessimistic scribblers? The more I thought about it, the more outraged I became. I discussed it with my cat, and though she doesn’t have time to read blogs on the internet, she too was offended. Something’s gotta be done, she said.

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Jinji can’t believe that Nechama is a blogger now

But it was then that I remembered how that post had come to be written. The truth of the matter was that I hadn’t written it at all, Nechama, my cat, had. She’d tried to convince me to go back to blogging, claiming that a lot of people weren’t enjoying their Fridays as much as they had been before, bereft of the enjoyment of reading my blog. As I’ve mentioned previously, I found it hard to write after the war we endured this last summer. Sometimes, I couldn’t even talk. ‘You know, Friday is fish day’, said Nechama with a glint in her eye. Okay, I said, giving her some fish. And then I started thinking about her comment. Was she trying to hint that there was something fishy about my avoiding the blog? ‘I just might write a post myself’, she continued, ‘if you don’t come up with something for your readers’. We tossed the ball back and forth, and I asked her what she’d write about, if she were to take my place at the laptop.

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Nechama tells a neighbor what she has to go through…

She mentioned that I come across like such a friendly old gent, that it might be a service to the community were she to present a portrait of me from another perspective. ‘they deserve to know the truth’, she muttered under her mustache. What truth? I asked innocently, thinking that as a cat, she couldn’t possibly understand my real sins. ‘Well, what kind of man serves pumpkin pie with whipped cream to a cat?!’ she asked in a growl that betrayed deep seated resentment. I burst into laughter. Is that what you’re going to tell my reading public? And with that, she started making her case. You know, when you live with a pet, they do adapt your ways. She was shoving ancient history at me, including the menus that were enjoyed by cats in the Greek temples when their occupation was protecting the local gods there. The more she told me, the more I laughed. Till finally, she got really irritated and asked why I wasn’t writing it all down.

Nechama + pie 3
Nechama eating pumpkin pie – photo by Chana

I told her I’d write it down, exactly as it came from her lips… very thin lips… but I wouldn’t sign my name to anything like that. I’d put hers on the by-line. This rather pleased her, and her story became still more colorful as she progressed. I was writing and she was telling it. I was drinking whisky and she was eating fish in a sour cream sauce, right there on the table next to me. Towards the end, she started including little parenthetical remarks mentioning a number of her friends by name, just for the fun of seeing their names in print. I kept saying, now that is off topic, and she would say, ‘when you write, you can decide what the topic is. This is my post’. And when we finished she just had to look over my shoulder, and asked where it said that she had written the blog post.

Nechama + pie 4
she seemed to enjoy it – photo by Chana

She decided on the name of the post. I myself would never have written anything like that. It was all hers. And I had a riotous two hours writing down what she said. I thought it was one of the funniest pieces I’d ever heard. After we finished, I published the post, and we both went to bed for a bit of a cat nap. But when I got up, the thoughts in my head sounded like the sound of bowling pins falling in the alley. I went to the computer, and checked out the post that I’d published. It sounded hollow. I didn’t laugh once. I pressed the edit button, and ran through it again. It wasn’t funny at all. So I threw it into the trash. All through the Sabbath, Nechama kept coming by and rubbing herself against my legs. ‘Any comments yet?’ she would ask. You know I don’t check the computer on the Sabbath, I told her.

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napping now, while I’m writing

But when the Sabbath was over, I turned on the computer. That’s when I found all these letters from people wondering how my post had disappeared. I really didn’t know how to answer them. What could I possibly say?

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69 responses to “the post that went missing

  1. Great (resurrected) post, Nechama! [And many thanks to Chana too, for the terrific pictures.] Well worth waiting a couple of extra days. Nechama’s right though, Shimon. What kind of man serves pumpkin pie with whipped cream to a cat?

    • Thanks very much, Nina. It’s not the pumpkin pie she objects to. Actually, she likes it. It’s just that she wants more meat and fish. In any case, I’m sure you’d get along great with Nechama… and with Chana too.

  2. I would love to know what my Jack Russell Terrier says when he stands and barks at me! 🙂

    I wish I had of seen that post Shimon.

  3. I wondered too.. And so it happens that our cats can be so wise and like pumpkin pie and whipped cream too. Most days I am inspired by observing our four cats, the birds outdoors and the clouds. Very simple, but it does not take much for me to enjoy my day. So very wonderful to hear from you, one way or another..

  4. What a delightful post. I had a feeling, from the cryptic message I received, that there was a cat involved, which pleased me (and my cat) a great deal.
    I am relieved to know the story of the disappearing post, as I just had subscribed to your blog. I had a sudden fear that I hadn’t met your Readership Standards and would have to reapply! (I’m teasing, of course.)

    You might tell Chana there’s a woman in the world who once frosted a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie with whipped cream, in order to hide the paw prints and keep a kitty from getting in trouble.

    • How good to hear that you enjoyed the post. I related your story to Chana, and we both had a good laugh about it. Thanks for subscribing to the blog. And yes, you joined me at a time when I’m still trying to find my balance, after a traumatic experience.

  5. All I can say is – thank God for Nechama:):). Sending love to you both. Janet xx

    • Thanks so much, Janet. Friends can come in all sizes and shapes. And Nechama is a very good friend, despite our occasional differences. Our love to you too. xxx

  6. I’ll have to admit, when I saw the link for “It’s a Cruel World” that I clicked on the link quite tentatively, hoping against hope that I wasn’t about to hear of some sort of unforgivable transgression that had befallen your sweet Nechama. The only clues I had for the mystery were the title of the post, and a mention of Nechama, so my overly-imaginative mind, of course, flew quickly in the direction of sorrowful bad news. When I reached a dead link, I was confused, and maybe a bit concerned, automatically reaching the conclusion that you had posted and then chosen to delete the post, all before I had managed to follow the link. This usually means there was too much truth revealed (at least, that’s what it usually means when I end up going back and scrubbing away any evidence of a post).

    Then, of course, because I have such a high amount of regard and respect for you, and a fondness for Nechama, I decided to just let things rest quietly. I was itching to ask the question, but it did actually occur to me that you keep computer silence during the Sabbath, so I took a “wait and see” approach. Imagine my delight, and relief, to see your post today. You are absolutely right about one thing — Fridays are always one of my favorite days, and when any Friday comes and goes without hearing from you, it always leave a bit of an empty space in my day. So thank you, abundantly, for clearing up the mystery. It has been such a nice bonus to begin to see your name pop up in my notifications again, so please do extend my thanks to your sweet Nechama. When the whiskey is cool against your throat, and your hands find the keyboard, it only seems natural that Nechama might decide to commandeer the content of your blog. She is always a welcome guest blogger, and if she chooses to introduce a few of her friends along the way, then all we can do is wave howdy, and smile as she enjoys her pumpkin pie (with whipped cream, of course).

    Any small event that brings a smile to your heart is a welcome subject for sharing with your readers. When you smile, we smile. As you well know, we are all in need of as many smiles as possible these days. Thank you for (a) clearing up the mystery, (b) sharing a smile, and (c) pushing the Publish button on Friday, today or any other day. We’ve missed you. 🙂

    • Everything depends on context, when it comes to words. The title of that post, “It’s a Cruel World”, was intended as humorous. But of course, when the post was deleted, the title remained ominous. I’ve often though about the use of humor in literature. One of my all time favorites is Mark Twain, and it isn’t at all surprising to learn that he suffered from long periods of unhappiness. For humor is a method to take a step back, and look at things without the weight of our emotional involvement. I do enjoy it a lot in my day to day life. But don’t use it that much in writing, because I know that it is more a matter of taste than most other literary styles. It is also both humorous and fascinating to look at life as we know it, with all the many things we take for granted… as seen by someone foreign to us. Sometimes I try to imagine how a Martian would see our society, without knowing all the history and cultural influences that have led us to behave the way we do. But then… during the summer, when I read and heard the opinions of people in other parts of the world regarding our behavior here in our little country, I was filled with despair and alienation. Using the viewpoint of my cat offered still another communication bridge. For she lives among us, and knows us. But is not one of us. She has her own consideration. Her view provides an alternative bridge. She is foreign but also knows us intimately. I don’t know if I should have written at all… I was both pressed for time, and not in a good mood. When I reread the post, I wasn’t sure the humor would come across. Maybe I should have just put the piece in a drawer and waited awhile. Thank you so much for your comment, Nancy.

      • Ah, yes. Context is everything, especially when pertaining to humor. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, it can be nearly impossible to force the humor when our hearts are still a bit closed up and wary.

        There was a time that I had such an easy trust built up with my blog readers, and then, after a particularly unpleasant exchange on a delicate subject, I suddenly felt uncomfortable in my own space. What had seemed so natural and welcome at one time, now felt forced and false. It seemed much easier to simply remain silent, rather than to feign frivolity, or worse yet, engage in serious conversation.

        I’m speaking of a time in my blogging history that was many years ago, but it ended up keeping me silent for quite a long time. Coming back to blogging was a gradual process for me, and even today, there are times I’m at the mercy of long stretches of uninterrupted silence. Yes, I can be chatty at times, but truthfully, especially of late, it seems that silence is the flavor of the day. It isn’t that I have nothing to say, but rather, that I’m still struggling to find my voice again.

        I can appreciate how difficult it might be for you to return to blogging, especially after the alienation and isolation and despair of the summer. I applaud you for at least making the effort, and if tentatively using humor through the voice of Nechama is one angle in which to put something on the page, you’ve succeeded in many ways already. You’ve managed to prove it can be done; you’ve given your readers some pleasant and enjoyable fodder for bemusement; and you’ve taken one step further into exploring your return to blogging. It’s a bit like stretching after an injury. It might be a little uncomfortable, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes.

        I truly have missed you, my friend. Anything you put on the page is a gift, and is received with appreciation. Even in silence, we still love you. As you explore whether or not returning to blogging feels like the right fit for you today, know that we will still be here, either way. Happily absorbing your tales of culture, your thoughts on world events, your observations regarding the complexities of human nature, or even following you down the path of humorous discourse, as relayed by your sweet Nechama. One of the reasons we were drawn to your blog to begin with is your own unique perspective on life, and only you can decide whether or not it feels right to continue the conversation. Obviously we hope to hear from you regularly, but either way, we’re still united as friends. Miles and miles might separate us in the physical sense, but hearts? Hearts know no such boundaries, and once linked, are bound forever. Just ask Nechama. She knows. She’s a wise girl, that Nechama. 🙂

  7. Who’s Chana?
    Glad you got it up and going again. Wasn’t sure what to even think about it. I started writing on my blog about my Dad when he died last Feb. but I had to quit due to emotions that I had not expected. I’m barely able to even open the blog right now. Perhaps soon.

    • Chana is the lady who offered me shelter when my friends induced me to move to a new apartment in a new neighborhood here in Jerusalem. I spelled her name Janne when I first started writing about her. But I think that Chana is more accurate. The ‘ch’ sounds like the J in Juárez.

      I can well understand your difficulty in writing about your Dad. It seems to me that when writing about emotional subjects, we have to wait for a while till we can view the subject with a certain dispassion. I remember how difficult it was for me, when my old mother died. I was surprised. Because it seemed the right time for her to go. She was very old. And still, it was very difficult for me to adjust to a world in which she didn’t exist anymore. I send you my consolations, Bob. Always enjoy your writing though, and hope you will get back to writing soon.

  8. A cat that can write?
    Well, my dog can read. Just yesterday he was poring over the newspaper.
    (Sorry ’bout that one) Good to hear from you.

    • Thanks for your humorous addition to the subject, Bumba. I remember, when I was young and used to write a bit for the newspaper… we used to say that the paper was most useful when wrapping fish. Now fish is wrapped in nylon, and most newspapers are going out of business.

  9. What a charming twist in the tail… tale. 🙂 Glad to hear Nechama is so willing to help out. Most unusual for a cat. Thanks for the laugh!

    • Cats are especially important for people who tend to take themselves a bit too seriously… like myself. Cats think of themselves as the highest order of life, and see us as nothing more than clever monkeys. Very glad I provided a laugh, Judy. It’s the finest compliment I could receive.

  10. Nechama is one cool cat is all I can say; she needs more access to your laptop. And you, my friend, are another kind of cool cat.

    • Yes, I think of myself as half Jewish and half cat. And I agree with you, Angeline. Maybe I was too quick to discount her contribution. You can see more of my writing on cats by clicking on the tag cats on the sidebar of my blog. Thanks.

  11. Ah, mystery solved! Finnegan said this was just as he suspected. Fiona concurred. Murphy sighed and settled into a contented nap. Fergus sneezed, and excused himself. Mulligan slept through it all, then woke and heard the tale from his siblings, laughed and asked for some pumpkin pie with whipped cream, or at least some apple crisp with yogurt. 🙂 We’re all so happy because of your post, Shimon and Nechama, and hope you two will write again soon. Sending our love…

    • Finnegan is a very nice name. I just finished reading ‘The Arrangement’ by Elia Kazan, and that is the name of his boss in the book. Quite a character. Glad to hear, Kitty, that all of your four legged friends were able to enjoy my story. But you’ve got to be careful about giving treats to beastly friends. They’re liable to insist on such favors in the future.

  12. Nechema is a wise, wise cat. Just like you, Shimon.

  13. Glad you and Nechema and you are okay, that’s the main thing … 🙂 … so good to hear from you again, Shimon … 🙂 … Love, cat (and Theo).

    • Thanks very much, cat. Yes, I’m very grateful that we are both doing quite well, and was pleased to appear in a double portrait with her. With love to you and Theo, both of you.

  14. Lovely Nechama. What a clever girl she is.

  15. So nice to hear frm you again. I love the picture of you, Nechama, and the pumpkin pie!

    • Thanks, Naomi. I liked the picture too, and it was fun to appear on the blog in a double portrait like that. Now I’m thinking of a comeback, the way they do it in Hollywood… you know, like Rocky 2, 3 and so on… Maybe we’ll do a pic with with a blackberry, or with steak and fries. She’ll eat the steak and I’ll eat the fries.

  16. Though it doesn’t surprise me that Nechema is delightful and wry, observing the world with a keen eye and a belly full of pie – it does surprise me that her first venture into the blogosphere got lost in the ether. I hope she shares her perspective on life again – it’s a delight to ‘meet’ her.

    • Yes, it was a tragic misadventure in cyberspace. And I have the feeling I was a bit too hard on her. I will try to convince her to give it another try, but I think she’s grown suspicious of me… thinking that I take story telling too seriously, and that I feel I’m always right. I tried to apologize but she pretended she didn’t hear me. Thanks, Mimi.

  17. Hello, Shimon. Just keep talking to us 🙂

  18. Well, I’m glad to see that Nechama at least got you writing again, Shimon. Smart cat, that one (although having lived with felines for many years, I think it’s a trait quite common to the species). I, too, went to check out your post only to be disappointed by its absence, so thanks for the explanation. Sometimes there are higher powers at work…

    • I feel like there are always higher powers at work, and that it’s our great gain when we’re able to integrate. As for animals, I am always amazed by their capacity to sense our moods and to relate to them with compassion. And yes, it does feel like I’m getting back to normal, Cathy. And how good it is.

  19. Thoroughly enjoyed this, Shimon. Please give my regards to Nechama.

    • So glad you enjoyed the post, yearstricken… and it’ll be a great pleasure telling Nechama about you. I have that feeling that you can voice a meaningful meow yourself.

  20. what a beautiful post! Only the best kind of human feeds a cat pumpkin pie with whipped cream! Nechama is quite the literary cat; I look forward to most posts from her. IF the human doesn’t lose them…. 🙂

    • Thanks so much Loisa. But Nechama thinks I’m a bit light headed about food. She likes steaks and lamb chops, and finds vegetables boring. But she does like eating what I do when I do… sometimes right off my plate. I got your hint of criticism too… and I must admit I feel a bit bad about having been over judgmental with her. I will try to improve.

      • No criticism from me, Shimon! I have 3 cats and feign ignorance when my husband scolds the cats for being on the dinner table. Please carry on! I will, too! 🙂

  21. Ahha! You are back….and on such GOOD form! And another story within a story eh? Most mysterious! You have me smiling away here!
    I did read the original post but didn’t comment at the time as I was rushing out….I did enjoy it, especially Nechama calling you a monkey for enjoying your celery with peanut butter, and baked potato and salad…..lol….much better than that raw bloody steak!!!It is interesting to hear her take on things…..she is still a wild thing!
    This is a wonderful post and I absolutely love it……fancy Nechama eating pumpkin pie, although having said that my dogs eat fruit and tomatoes! Nechama’s post was marvelous, as are her friends, and I’m SO pleased she has you back blogging….glad you finished Shadow of the Wind, it’s rather memorable isn’t it?xxx

    • It’s good, Dina, that you didn’t comment on that first post. Had you done so, it probably would have been hard to toss that article. And yes, Nechama is very critical of my eating choices. When she mentions my tending towards a vegetarian diet, it’s the only time I see her smile. It’s as if she’s pitying my foolishness. And it is good to get back to blogging. To tell you the truth, though, I was a bit disappointed by Shadow of the Wind. I felt it was something of a shaggy dog tale, as the Americans say.So slowly does he reveal the basis of the story. And then I was overcome with sadness when the lovers were discovered. Someone told me that the next book is better… but I don’t know if I have the strength for it. So good to hear from you. xxx

  22. Just as well I waited to read Nechama’s words. I saw the title but thought I’d delay the delish pleasure of a purr or two. Therefore, I did not run up or down any dead end links. You know, Shimon, Nechama is pretty sharp, getting you to edit out what you wrote. You really cannot do your man stuff in place of what she wanted you to write.

    By the way Shadow Of The Wind has not been equalled by its author. I think his idea of writing four books in reverse was much like you interpreting. What Nechama said, instead of writing what she actually did and said.

    Has Nechama forgiven you yet?

    • It is embarrassing, admitting that the one time I threw a blog post in the trash was when Nechama wrote it. I did try to apologize to her, but she pretended she didn’t hear me. I don’t think she forgives easily. But I will try to induce her to make her voice heard again.

      I had a problem with Shadow of the Wind… had the feeling that Zafón was leading me by the nose; the facts were revealed so slowly. But I heard from a literary fan, that the second book was even better. But you’re right about this post… it was written under the influence of Zafón, and I appreciate that you caught that, menhir. That’s why we started with the ‘shadow on the wall’; a tribute, you might say.

  23. I notice that many of your posts have photos of Nechama posing in a variety of attitudes. Shimon Nechama seems to have a greater influence on your writing than you care to admit. Time to give her equal credit, or get her her own blog. (I looked up the meaning of Nechama’s name. She definitely deserves that pumpkin pie. I hope she gives you comfort and solace.)

    • How wonderful that you were able to find the meaning of Nechama’s name, Mary. Yes, our sages said that there is an element of prophesy in the giving of a name, and she certainly lives up to her name! On the other hand, she has a lot of reservations regarding vegetables. She thinks meat eaters are a higher order of creatures, and worries that I might be in the decline… and that if I continue on this path, I may end up no more amusing that a potato. We do have our differences. Thanks very much for your comment.

  24. Nechama knows how to make me smile … and warm my heart with memories of our cats.

  25. I am so glad to learn that Nechama is such a literate feline. You must be very proud of her. No wonder you fed her pumpkin pie and cream ….

    • Well, it is my practice to share what I love with friends. Unfortunately, Gill, she disparages the eating of vegetables… believing that meat eaters are a higher order of living creatures. I am not proud, but grateful for the company and friendships I enjoy. And she is certainly a true friend.

  26. Trixie, Caspurr snd Shimshi have asked me to convey their indignation at the deletion of Nechama’s post before they (or I, for that matter) had a chance to read it. We didn’t even know of its existence!!!

    • My apologies to Trixie, Caspurr and Shimshi. What beautiful names! I especially like Shimshi. Is he yellow in coloring? Personally, I think it might have been a mistake. I was too judgmental and insensitive. I was sorry, and tried to apologize to Nechama… but she would have none of it. She pretended she didn’t hear me. I can only hope she will forget the incident, and that we will be able to try again. Thanks, Shimona.

  27. What a lovely story and I’m so glad I stayed up a bit later than usual to read this and catch up with a few blogs. I read ‘ Shadow of the Wind’ and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am currently wading through Donna Tartt’s ‘Gold Finch’. It’s a long read and for me it’s not nearly as good as her previous two books.

    • Very glad you enjoyed the post, Andy. I can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Shadow’ I felt it was well written. And especially interesting for those who didn’t know the Franco regime, and what went on in Spain then. But all in all it seemed more a puzzle to me, than a study of those questions and issues in life that make literature a commentary on the affairs of man, at its best. Haven’t heard of Donna Tartt. But I will look up the Gold Finch. I have an appetite for good reading these days.

  28. Loved this. My cat would much rather destroy a post than write one. He’s constantly on my computer keys. I recommend you read Run With the Horsemen by Ferrol Sams. It is excellent.

    • So glad you enjoyed the post, Ibeth. I have a long reading list, these days, but I will joy down your recommendation. It’s true though, that cats sometimes see our occupations as competition. Those of us who live with cats have to learn the art of compromise.

  29. I love this post….and maybe I’ll give my cat a slice of pumpkin pie too ;]

    • Glad you liked this, Kari Ann. My experience is that what cats like most, is what their friends are eating. If you like pumpkin pie, I’m sure your cat will too.

  30. …. 🙂 I loved these photographs so much! Nechama eats pumpkin pie ! so lovely. Kisses for Nechama, dear Shimon. Thank you, love, nia

  31. ‘Well, what kind of man serves pumpkin pie with whipped cream to a cat?!’

    Now this made me laugh a lot…….. we have two Siamese so I sympathise, because if ever they figure out how a computer keyboard works – we are lost !
    Great post from Nechama: happy days are always around the corner, one just needs look.

    David.

    • Well, it did take me a long time to get back to comments, David. Seems like my life was too complicated for a while there. Glad you liked the post. And I know that living with a Siamese is an ultimate feline experience. But we who love cats, know how to appreciate them. Thanks for the comment.

  32. Clever and fun story. You say that Nechama is adopting your ways. Perhaps there is some accommodation going both ways…

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