whereabouts of the muse 1

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There is an adage in Hebrew that says, ‘the muse disappears when the canon roars’. As a rule, I don’t have trouble finding my muse. She finds me most of the time. It’s not that I never have trouble writing or photographing. Sometimes it’s hard to get what’s on my mind onto the paper. But usually, I get to work after something has caught my fancy. I don’t have to go looking for inspiration.

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And yet, at times of war or tragedy, my thoughts are on the tragedy. And I lose touch with creativity. This time, with the start of the violence, I had thoughts so terrible that I couldn’t bear them. Not just thoughts… dreams too. I would wake up in the middle of the night after a particularly depressing dream, and couldn’t fall asleep again. And often, during the day… I would find myself staring out… not focused on anything… or through my window… and my heart would be filled with sorrow. After a while of this, all I wanted, was not to think. But that’s a bit of a problem for me. Because I’m used to thinking. I think just about all the time. So I tried to find a way not to think of those specific things that bring on overwhelming unhappiness. And one easy solution presented itself to me. The situation in which I am least likely to think my own thoughts is when I am studying, or reading the thoughts of someone else. So I started reading.

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In the past few years, my primary reading interest has been current fine literature. I’ve been trying to find new writers who have the impact of the literary giants I loved in the past. I thought it would be a good way for me to keep in touch with what concerns the generation that is dealing with the current problems of life. And to better understand the problems and the challenges of those people who are starting out now, living their adult lives, and those who’re right in the middle of it all. I have to admit that I did not have much success in my quest. But in the last half year, I started getting the feeling that I understood the issues of the day better than I had before I started this project.

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But now, with this new intention of redirecting my own thoughts, reading fine literature did not do the job. If I read about the problems of others… or even a page turning mystery… my thoughts would often return to the problems of Israel, and to the threats to my own safety, and the safety of those I loved. For each day there was news of some pal who had suddenly knifed an innocent victim, waiting for a bus, or walking down the street, lost in his or her own thoughts.

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So I moved from fine literature to biographies. I always have a few books around that I haven’t yet read. Sometimes I will read a review that interests me, and buy the book ‘for later’. I used to have quite a pile of books that I kept for ‘retirement’. But I have been retired for some time now, and I’ve read most of those books, starting when I had my first heart attack some years back, and had nothing to do while I recuperated. But recently, there has been a new fashion of ‘give and take’ public libraries. A stand or a closet… sometimes even a number of closets that are set up in the public domain, and the public is encouraged either to take a book for free, or invest a book for which one has no need, and so these little public libraries offer free reading material to passers by, and are continuously being replenished, without any official staff to maintain order. I have run into quite a few such libraries and occasionally found interesting books.

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The first biography I started reading was the autobiography of Arthur Miller, who had always interested me, since his first plays were being performed. It was one of the books I had on my bookshelf, waiting for the appropriate time. His recollections were very interesting and I felt I got to know him quite well through the autobiography. His attitudes and choices made fascinating reading. Moreover, he seemed honest and straight forward, and I felt I was getting to know the real man, which was quite different from his public image as I remembered it. I underlined many sentences as I made my way through the book, and even read some of those selections to my friends. And after that, I went on to read a biography of Gertrude Stein. These books really did help me to redirect my thoughts.

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While still reading the book on Gertrude Stein, I saw an autobiography of Isaac Asimov in one of those free public libraries. I read that one after reading the very impressive Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant. He served as president of the United States during the 1870s. And previous to that, was the chief of staff of the U.S. army during the civil war between the states. I had first become aware of this volume when reading praise of it by Bob Dylan, who had read it in the 60s. Though I have always found interest in history, and had read a bit of American history, this book helped me to understand the US civil war better than anything else I had read before.

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Isaac Asimov was an American professor of biochemistry, who became famous as a writer of science fiction, and later as a popular teacher of science. He was one of the most prolific writers ever. He wrote or edited more than 500 books. He was famous for offering the reader historical background in the explanation of scientific concepts and inventions. Reading his autobiography, I was delighted by his modest description of his own life, his learning processes and the way in which he worked. In fact, as I read about certain questions he had about the Jewish religion… questions to which he did not find answers, though he himself was Jewish, I deeply regretted that he had already died, and I was unable to write to him and explain a mysterious ceremony that he had seen, and never understood. As I read about these lives, I was surprised by the difference between their public image, and what I thought they might be like when I read their works as compared to my impression when reading of their actual lives. When I was younger, long before the invention of the internet and Wikipedia, I was not that interested in the private lives of writers and thinkers. I had the feeling that I had gotten to know them through their work. Nowadays, when I run into a new writer or painter or photographer, I often look them up on the internet. It seems that I know a lot more about the people whose work interests me than I did in my youth. Such knowledge was less available then to the casual reader.

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Usually, I like to write what I have to say in a single post. But this time, I have to conclude with a ‘to be continued’ bottom line. I want to thank those who’ve commented on previous posts, and those who’ve written me mails. Thanks to Chana for these pictures of me, here on this post. The situation here in Jerusalem right now is so difficult for me, that I find it hard to write… I am trying to get back on track again. I hope to answer some of the questions I’ve been asked in further writing.

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60 responses to “whereabouts of the muse 1

  1. Like you, I am working on trying to get back on track. I’m actually having a difficult time putting words on the page, but I keep nudging (and poking and prodding) myself in the direction of gratitude and awareness, and have recently stepped up my efforts to engage with other people again.

    It’s complicated. I’ve actually had more interaction in the face-to-face world than has happened in a quite a long while, and although it has been enjoyable on nearly every front, my solitude and silence buffer zone was critically out of balance. The night terrors returned, and that’s always a sign that it is past time to set things right.

    The good news is that I finally managed to put SOMETHING on the page. That’s a move in the right direction. With the New Year beginning, I’m looking forward to shifting things around, and part of that includes visiting all my favorite blogs again. I do hope to see more of your writing and photography in the coming months, as I have always found it intelligent and charming, informative, and superbly creative. Always good to see you.

    • From my experience, being able to talk to our fellow man or woman… those physically around us… is more valuable than the ability to write. Though sometimes writing helps build the bridges to other worlds… or to people who couldn’t understand us had we not written. I’ve often used writing to overcome a misunderstanding between friends. For me, writing on the internet is extremely hard when I know that the people who are reading me don’t know anything of my world, and would have a very hard time understanding all the complications. There is just too much to explain. But lately, after not writing for a while, I felt a bit homesick for my blogging friends. So I’ve given it a try anyway. Best wishes to you for a very good year ahead, Nancy.

      • It’s kind of funny how we can miss something that we never really had. Someone that I talk to about blogging has no real concept of the connections that are formed while becoming part of the blogging community, so she tells me that it doesn’t make sense that I could miss people I’ve never even met. It’s hard to explain that when we somehow connect with someone in a way that there is some sort of recognition, and you can imagine that in a different set of circumstances, you could actually be chatting at your dining room table, that it can feel very much like a dear and close friend. When we go silent in the blogging world, it just seems natural that we would miss those dining room table conversations. It all helps feed our soul, or gives us an opportunity to provide a listening ear to someone whom we care about, so yes, even though it doesn’t seem to make sense that we can miss someone we’ve never met, the truth is that sometimes those connections run deeper than some of the interactions we have with people in the face to face world.

        Even though my “history” has a lot to do with who I’ve grown into being, there are many times I’ve wished I could start over when meeting people (both in person and via blogging). Just as you mentioned that it is just entirely too complicated and intricate to try to convey what is the reality in your world, it can feel as if no amount of explaining can ever convey how my past has impacted my present. It truly gives me pause, and begs the question … why not just forget the past entirely, and begin the conversation with today?

        But to ignore our past is to deny the essence of our base beliefs and ideas, so even though I resist wearing the heavy weight of my past, there are times when it feels like a comfortable quilt that offers up a bit of solace in a cold and uncomfortable world. Which is also what friendship feels like, especially in the blogging world, so thank you for being part of what has helped me feel safe, and understood. 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing some great book suggestions. I too find the muse missing sometimes– I write in my head, but the time to put to paper, aka, computer often disappears too fast.

    • Yes, Lisa, I too find that time is ever moving more quickly. Often I don’t keep up. And when it comes to choosing between life and communication with a lot of people, I think life is a lot more important. It is always obvious, though, what gives us the greatest pleasure… what activities are most rewarding. I suppose that sometimes, we need a break from everything. There was a long time when I didn’t have time for reading. And right now, it’s one of the most pleasurable things I do. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Dear Shimon, I can almost understand you. Because this situation and these thoughts and feelings are not so far for me. But yes, life goes on… I just want to say this, Happy New Year to you and to your family and also to your country. Your photographs are so beautiful but especially the one with your own cat 🙂 Thank you, Blessing and Happiness, Love, nia

    • Thanks very much, Nia. I know that I really enjoy seeing some of the writers I read in pictures. And so, though I don’t often do ‘selfies’. I was glad to share a few pictures of myself, this time, taken by a dear friend who is always happy to follow my adventures. Best wishes to you too.

  4. Happy New Year, dear friend; I so hope it blesses Israel and the world with greater pauses and peace, a true reversal of the angry energy that seems to have gathered momentum of late.

    I love these photos of you and your buddies and pursuits, Shimon. You look fit and well and it’s wonderful to see you smiling, too. Good job, Chana!

    I also turn to books when I need to redirect my mood or focus, and gather inspiration and new perspectives, or just connect with a source of solace, and I’ve always read biographies and memoirs of artists and historical figures (for me, usually women) to help me with this, so it was so interesting to hear what you’ve been reading. I remember a Gertrude Stein and A. B TokIas kick I went on in my twenties, which is how this works for me. I tend to read everything I can find on someone, from their perspective and others. Along the way, I’m led to the next person I want to know more about: I think I got to know quite a few of the resident Parisian artists from the 20’s! 🙂

    I saw this quote this morning, and thought how wonderfully it connected to your post: “That’s what literature is. It’s the people who went before us, tapping out messages from the past, from beyond the grave, trying to tell us about life and death! Listen to them!” ~ Connie Willis

    I welcome your words and images, however and whenever they come; I send you love, prayers, and a hug through space. (I bet Asimov could explain this, were he here to do so, but I know it’s possible and true.) Shalom, and a blessed Shabbat.

    • Yes, it was very sweet of Chana to record me as I really am on a day to day basis. It seems to me that a person’s presence is a very important part of communication. And I do like seeing the pictures of those I like to read. So it is good to have this opportunity to share a bit of me in my post… especially this one, which is all about the way I dealt with a really traumatic situation. Much as you describe yourself, Kitty, when I find a writer that I truly enjoy, I like to read everything he’s written. But for some reason, I din’t often read biographies. But because I was going through a hard time, it helped to read how others had dealt with their hard times… how they’d found the right choices for them, and so on. I hope to continue this narrative in the next post. Thank you very much for your comment, and your good wishes.

  5. I did a course on Arthur Miller’s works years back and I’ve read some of Gertrude Stein’s work, but thanks for the great suggestions. I think there are books for everybody and every occasion, but one can’t but hope that the circumstances will change for the better, although…

    • The books I’m mentioning here, are not so much recommendations, as an account of which books I chose to read at a time when I’m dealing with my own problems. In the case of Gertrude Stein, I chose to read the biography that someone else had written because I had gotten to know her writing many years ago… and knew she had quite a lot of influence on some creative artists I enjoyed. I wanted to get more of an objective view. I will write more about that in the coming post. Thanks very much for your comment, Olga.

  6. Happy New Year Shimon and a wish for your Muse to settle peacefully in your heart.
    I enjoyed the photographs, particularly the first one.

    And yes, a grand therapeutic plan to coax your Muse out of her hiding place by reading biographies. Arthur Miller, Isaac Asimov! What brilliant choices.

    And by way of unrelated trivia about each of them…I taught Miller for 40 years. One of my students, an East Indian young man, went on to become a pulmonary surgeon in NYC (and who, while in my class, had done an extensive report on Miller), was present at Mr. Miller’s death and wrote to share that with me…brought tears to my eyes.

    I traded emails years ago with Eric Asimov, Isaac’s son, who was (is?) quite a wine critic for the NYT.

    I find that a rereading of Undaunted Courage (about the Lewis and Clark Expedition) is therapeutic.

    Thank you for this blog post.

    • I too spent quite a few years teaching, Cheri, and as many others have mentioned, having students is a bit like having children. Our attitudes and approaches to life is continued by others. And there is that sense of reward when we see our students (or children) continuing our work beyond what we could do ourselves. It sounds wonderful to me that one of your students was there to give help to Miller. He was truly a hero of a particular time, and it was refreshing for me to read his version of stories that I had heard from other sources. Both in the case of Miller and Asimov, I thought I knew them, but realized that I hadn’t truly understood them till I read their autobiographies. They added a very important element to my perspective of those times. Thank you so much for your comment, and also for your recommendation of Undaunted Courage. I will certainly look for the book.

  7. Shimon,
    I so savor your posts and in my comments here, I often find that I really have nothing to add because you have so eloquently captured the essence of a topic. I can say that I relate to the challenge of finding the muse, especially when I feel traumatized or depressed. It’s as if the joy of creating seems inappropriate somehow. But when I do push through, I always feel better. I hope that this beautiful post helped you to do that in some way (also, I love Isaac Asimov – what a brilliant and diverse human being!)
    Cathy

    • Yes, it’s true Cathy, that often our writing has just as much to offer us personally as it does to others. When I first started reading blogs, I often refrained from writing comments if I saw there were a lot. I feared that I would just echo what others had already said. But after a while, I realized that every person has something to offer… even when many think the same way. That each person is reflected through his comments… sometimes between the lines. And these day, I’ve learned something else I consider quite important. There was a time when I really didn’t like ‘likes’. Especially since there was no button for ‘dislike’. And it seemed that some people used them just to attract attention to themselves. But during this time when I have been suffering emotional pain, and often find it hard to write, I really appreciated the ability to send a like now and then to my friends. Thank you very much for your comment.

  8. What a delightful photographic journey to wake up to, this morning. C.S. Lewis said that we read to know we are not alone.

    One of the books I read on ending writer’s block said that one cannot write if one is afraid. However, this isn’t true. I’ve lived my whole life in fear, not like yours. I attended a conference where another author said that our best writing comes from our deepest fears. I don’t believe that either. I discovered that my writing struggles when there are no words to adequately express all I’m thinking and feeling and I carefully mute everything because it’s too much. The writing comes back when I allow myself to feel and give myself permission to share.

    I’m looking forward to seeing and reading what you decide to share. May you and Israel be blessed.

    • I am unfamiliar with Lewis, but I have heard some good things about him, and I agree with what he said about reading. My childhood was spent almost completely alone, and filled with study and reading. And it was the reading that provided me with any and all the company I enjoyed. That is one of the most important reasons I chose to write in my life. There were some writers I continued true friends, and I learned a lot about life from them. Thank you so much for your blessing, Judy. I do appreciate your comment.

  9. Happy new year… Hope for the best.

  10. It’s very enjoyable, because so rare, to see pictures of you yourself doing some of the things that give you pleasure. We all have to deal with threatening situations in our own way, allowing them to challenge our attitudes and assumptions perhaps, without letting them take over our moods. More easily said than done.

    • There are experiences that I found much easier to deal with when younger. But as we grow old, sometimes even the familiar becomes challenging. A traumatic situation such as we’ve been facing here for the last three months is much harder to deal with. But even so, I try to do the best I can. Since I was writing about my own growth and learning process… even at old age, I thought it would be good to show some pictures of myself as well. And fortunately, I had someone near who was willing to fill in as photographer. Thanks very much, Gill.

  11. Having just sent the above, I then read the text of a bishop’s 2016 reflection which was broadcast on our radio today, which included these words:

    ”every human community has to comprehend difference of opinion and competing priorities. Yes, we can walk away from the discomfort of conflict; or, we can face reality and harness it for honest conversation. Difference matters.”

    https://nickbaines.wordpress.com/2016/01/01/new-year-2016/

    • Thank you very much for sharing the advice of the bishop here. As you might know, difference of opinion in our society is very wide and very common. Free speech is so ingrained in our values, that we tolerate traitorous opinions even at times of war. And there are times when it is really painful to hear. But there are those who see it as one of our best qualities. At this time, when we witness indiscriminate violence on our streets, there are many who wonder why those who laud the violence were unable to see the advantages of disagreement and the political process in a democracy. And others who wonder if we haven’t been too lenient and permissive about lies, propaganda, and libel. I suppose we’ll have to study such issues again.

  12. I suspect, my friend, your muse is always with you, and is simply waiting patiently as your heart and soul heal. I’m happy to learn that you appear to have begun to find your way back. Blessings, Shimon, for now and in the upcoming new year.

    • Yes, my dear Myra, I consider myself very lucky in that I hear voices… my muse is with me. Sometimes my ancestors are with me too… reminding me of what they have gone through. It helps me deal with unconventional sorrows. There are time when it seems as if I’m watching a surrealistic movie… but when I’m reminded of the past, I can put even these experiences in some sort of perspective. Thank you very much for your comment, and my best wishes to you too at the start of this new year.

  13. The emotions are palpable. I agree it is hard to stay on any track when there is so much disarray and disharmony close by.

    I like your current strategy, is has much positivity and many absorbing aspects, which you courageously and kindly share with us in some depth.

    I enjoyed the pictures of you at work and in thought. Loved seeing your gorgeous cat too.

    Shalom.

    xx

    • I’ve grown a bit softer in certain areas with age. I listen more to the animals around me. I always listened to people. But listening to the animals has widened my understanding and patience. And though I’ve always lived with cats, never before did I have such a close relationship with them as my relationship with Nechama, who has shared my home and life with me for the past ten years. She offers me both criticism and love. And it is both amusing and a learning experience. Glad you enjoyed the post, menhir. xx

  14. What a rich and satisfying post, Shimon. Your thoughts about what it’s like to live in a complicated and, yes, dangerous, situation, are of great interest to me: Learning to truly live, and not merely to “cope,” can be a bit of a trick, and it’s perfectly understandable that you find it mentally and emotionally draining.

    Like you, I’ve always enjoyed biographies, but I’m even more fond of journals and collections of letters. One of my favorite websites is called Letters of Note. That’s just what it is: a collection of letters written by people famous or not, on every subject you can think of. There are wonderful treasures, like William Faulkner’s letter of resignation to the post office after a brief stint as postmaster. (As you might imagine, he didn’t fit the bureaucracy particularly well.) I think you might enjoy it, when you just want a little something different. There are over 900 letters in their archives.

    As for understanding America, I have a couple of suggestions. One is a brilliant book by John M. Barry called “Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America.” The other suggestion is anything by John McPhee. “The Control of Nature” is fabulous, and wide-ranging. as is “The Founding Fish.” I’ve yet to find a book of his I didn’t enjoy. I want to be him, when I grow up.

    The other name I’ll mention is Loren Eiseley, who’s science-meets-poetry personified. Read anything. His story, “The Talking Cat, is online. I just read it again. I cry every time — not from sorrow, but because of the truth and beauty it contains.

    Happy New Year, Shimon. May this be the year of peace.

    • I think you know, Linda, just how much I appreciate both your writing and your comments… on your blog as well as your comments on mine. And how sweet it is that you’ve added some recommendations for reading here, that I will certainly check out. But I have to tell you of my experience just now, checking out the link to ‘letters of note’ which you recommended to me here. The first letters I found were an exchange between George Orwell and T.S. Eliot regarding the now famous work of Orwell written some seventy years ago. It was really amazing to read these letters because just last week I had discussed a book I am writing (in my own language, Hebrew) with my friends. And the big question was whether it was wise to write a scandalous story poking fun at values we all have in common just at the time that out enemies were stabbing innocent citizens in the streets of our city. I’ve been giving it serious thought… and now I can view a similar situation after seventy years have gone by… though I can’t promise you that I will succeed in my humorous offer nearly as well as that great classic did.

      Thank you too, for your good wishes, Linda. I worry that I’m becoming a skeptic… but I try to keep hoping.

  15. Dear Shimon, Such a poignant post yet your effort and strength shine through. I loved reading about how you’ve changed your perspectives when it comes to reading certain books. I wish you the very best for the New Year. I hope our paths might cross one day.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Marina, and your sweet wishes at the start of the new year. It is so very good to see you here. And since I do know that you visit our fair country from time to time, I can join you in the hope that we have the opportunity to meet, and to share a few good moments.

  16. You are a man of deep thought and conviction … thus troubled by much of the world’s news. May reading give you peace while stimulating your quest for continued growth in knowledge.

    On a related note, President Grant’s birthplace isn’t very far from me … about a 45-minute drive at the other end of the county. Happy New Year to you!

    • It is always very interesting to see how great men and women are remembered in their old home towns. Usually, on Independence Day here, some local radio or TV commentator will go around asking high school kids what they know of specific ‘founding fathers’ of our country, and the answers provide hysterical laughter and fun. And so I wonder if your countrymen know of the deeds and the opinions of Grant, who was the first president after the civil war, and a very forward thinker. Especially in light of the fact that your country will be looking for a new president shortly. My wishes are for your success. America is a dear friend of ours. Thanks for the comment, Frank.

  17. Love the photos of you. It’s interesting what we do to find peace in our lives.

  18. Happy New Year Shimon. I’m sorry to read of your pain and I think I understand it. You did mention a pal stabbing someone, or did I read that wrong? We have such closet libraries here but my time is fully occupied with photograpy and nearing the end of my time. Your choice of reading was almost what I had in college. The high majority of my reading…in life…was medical and technical. The rest, made my brain hurt.. I think all the time…I think. I imagine we, here in the US, get different news from there, but what we do get is sure disturbing. The pathetic mentality of the terrorists attracting an even lesser mentality of Muslim as I see it….sad. Very sad. Cureable? Sure. (to be continued)
    Please stay healthy and alive.

    • I’m doing my best, dear friend, to stay healthy and alive. It’s just that living with disappointment is so wearisome. When I was you and naive, I believed with all my heart, that if we just had the patience to share our garden of eden with barbarians, they would be overcome by the pleasures of the wine and the beauty of the roses, and the freedom of democracy. But as it happened, they finished the wine and then his us over the head with the bottle, trampled the roses, and think that freedom is stabbing anyone you disagree with in the neck. And their more moderate brothers and sisters sing songs and paint pictures to commemorate the deeds of the murderers. I used to have faith in my fellow man, but now it seems that I have to be choosy. Thanks Bob, for your comment.

  19. Good morning dear, Shimon. Since you wrote this post, I see that there has been another atrocity in Jerusalem – It’s all beyond words. Please know that my thoughts are always with you.
    Thank you to Chana for the wonderful photographs, especially of course the one with you and beautiful Nechame….that’s one of the best ever.

    I believe it’s an excellent idea to re-direct the mind when going through periods of anxiety when the ‘chattering monkeys’ are going mad within our heads. This is what I try to do when I am going through times of great anxiety….and it does help.

    I have alway enjoyed biographies, and at times they have helped me to put my own life into perspective… I will definitely be picking up the Personal memoirs of U.S.Grant as I have an interest in the American Civil War….

    It’s good to see you writing again, and I will now look forward to your next post……meanwhile, keep safe, and keep reading with Nechame on your lap…a sure way to relax the soul and mind.
    Here’s to peace and creativity during this coming year. Janet. xx

    • We have so many of these atrocities here, that they no longer merit such a word of repulsion. I’m beginning to think that this is what is meant as multiculturalism, and that we have to respect their need to knife us. Just kidding, of course. But there is that fear that after a while I might turn into a maniac myself.

      And yes, I’m really grateful to Chana that she finds me worthy of her photographic endeavors, and has offered to share her view of me, as I struggle to retain some sanity. Nechama prefers to see me reading. When I try to type on the computer, she often pulls my hands away from the keys. I join you in wishing for peace and creativity. For that is what makes life worth living. My very best to you, my dear Janet. xxx

  20. Thankyou from my heart Shimon , for your inspiration , your humanity , your photos and words and always your authenticity that always touches me as to the truth of where and how you live … may this new year bring dreams that become true …love , megxxx

    • My dear Meg, your words are always such a blessing for me. From your lips to the ears of god. The truth is that we live in such a beautiful and loving place, no one wants to give it up. So we’ll just have to find the way to deal with the barbarians, and the sooner the better. Hope there’ll be good news soon. xxx

  21. Hi Shimon,
    I came here today for a quick read but I get trapped in your very moving article. Could you imagine how the world would be transformed if the drums of war could stop once for all?
    Happy New Year. Yves.
    And, thanks to you, my first Kindle downloaded book of 2016 is now Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant.

    • So nice to meet you, Yves. Sometimes I try to write something short and to the point, If you click on cats, you might see some of my better offerings… short and to the point. But after hell broke out here in Jerusalem, I didn’t write at all for a few weeks, and then when I finally did, I just kept going, without looking at the clock. You mention the ‘drums of war’, and this reminds me that there are so many action thrillers coming out of Hollywood these days. They seem to produce more lust for blood and guts than for making love. Maybe we ought to do a bit of soul searching over what sort of culture we really want. In any case, there is still room for hope. And let me wish you many hours of pleasure with your Kindle. Another great invention.

  22. I can totally understand how difficult it is for you to write, and I’m so sorry that this terrible situation exists, I would be exactly the same, sometimes the world is just too much for me to bear and I have to try and switch off, but like you, I don’t find it easy.
    It’s lovely to see posts from you though, I do miss you and always keep you in my thoughts.
    I really did enjoy all these pictures of you, your humour and kindness shine out, lovely to see you smiling too. My favourites were the ones with Nechama, the cows and that little cat licking your ice cream….that is a story in itself!
    I have to confess to having read very few autobiographies, I think it’s because I always have such a stack of unread books, but I often wonder about the authors. I stumbled across a strange little book a few weeks ago, The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman…most odd but enjoyable.
    I shall look forward to the continuation…xxx

    • My dear Dina, I know you do understand. And knowing cats the way you do, I’m sure you understand too, that I can’t bear to cry all day and mope around in public view. We cats like a little privacy, when we’re under the weather. But I did get lonely for my friends after a while, and so I’ve opened the laptop again. We’ll see if I can communicate without embarrassing myself. I hope so. There are still things I haven’t gotten to with this story… and who knows what the next day will bring. The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman sounds interesting. I will check out the critiques. Glad you enjoyed the pictures. My very best to you. xxx

  23. As usual, Shimon, I love your photos, especially the first two, and am wondering where they were taken.
    I have a pile of books I have yet to read, and I, too, always promised myself that if I hadn’t managed to do so before, I would read them when I retired. But I am now retired and, not only does the pile not diminish, it grows, because there are always special offers at Steimatzky (the Steimatzky Club membership was the best investment I ever made) and I keep buying 2 or 3 books for every one I read.
    As a fellow Jerusalemite, I share your pain and, when it becomes necessary to take my mind off “the Situation” – well, you are a regular reader of my own blog, so you know how I try to do that 🙂

    Keep well and stay safe, dear friend.

    • I have to admit that I’m not all that enthusiastic about Steimatzky. There used to be a lot more competition between the different bookstores here in our town… and more bookshops too. It seems like we’re going through an adjustment that will take a while. And meantime, the focus seems to be more on earnings than on providing as wide as possible choices in books. Ultimately, I imagine that most books will be sold as digital.

      I appreciate your cultural choices, and the wonderful music you bring us. The drive of commerce is to keep us buying new things… above all, to keep us buying. But we know, that as in music and books, there are certain periods, certain constellations that offered us the greatest treasures. And that fortunately, culture doesn’t have to be updated every few years, like computers or automobiles. And it is people like yourself that keep our young aware that some timeless riches are there for all of us, available to all who show interest. Best wishes to you, Shimona, in the hope that our city will soon find calm and peace.

  24. Dear Shimon, It is good to hear your voice again! I too have many books on the shelves that I have purchased for later reading. It feels good to know that I will never be bored, and filling up your story bank is a wonderful way to stimulate thought and imagination. Best wishes to you and your country for the coming year.

    • Thanks so much, Naomi. I have really been disconnected for a while, trying to nurse myself while all hell was breaking loose. But I do miss my friends, so I’m making an attempt at a comeback. We’ll have to see whether it’s possible to concentrate on intellectual matters, while old time bullies and ruffians run around with knives. It is really a challenge for peace loving folks. I remember we had a Jerusalemite of note, back a few years, who preached turning the other cheek. But I have a feeling this isn’t going to work in the test we are giving the theory these days. Meantime, stay tuned, and I’ll try to share my experience with my friends. Best wishes to you too.

  25. Happy Gregorian New Year Shimon! I really hope that soon you can enjoy peace once more! Chana’s pictures are excellent! The portraits do what good portraits are supposed to and I feel I know you better after seeing them.

    • Thank you very much, Chillbrook. Yes, I’ve often felt the lack when I regularly read a blog, or a column in some journal, and get to know some person without ever seeing him. Maybe we put too much of an accent on looks, but it is good to see whom we’re conversing with.

  26. I am fascinated to hear of a new and original way of coping with mental and emotional pain.Usually I drink vodka with my mates but reading may be better .My wife hates me drinking and thinks it’s a waste of money.I might buy a camera too.Exercise helps me and the camera is a good reason for going out.I want to praise your honesty and strength of character.

    • I believe that drinking with friends can be very beneficial. I can imagine that your wife might prefer that you share with her what is bothering you (so long as she’s not the cause of your unhappiness), but even in a very good marriage, it is good to hold on to friends, and to loosen up in their company. Reading can also help. Nice to meet you, Jon. Here’s hoping that you don’t suffer too much from emotional pain.

  27. God be with you. I wish I could help.

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