Tag Archives: fish

art factory

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one of the many almond trees we saw blossoming

Thursday was one of those unpleasant winter days in Jerusalem. Dark clouds hung over the city as the temperature rose to a high of 24° by mid day. Noga and I had gone out to look at the newly blossomed almond trees, despite the weather, and by noon, we were looking for a place to have a couple of beers, and maybe something to eat. She suggested we visit the factory, a local art project organized in an abandoned old house, in the middle of Jerusalem. It seemed a good place to take a break. Empty House is a cooperative of idealistic young artists who wish to offer space in which to work to other artists, and also to contribute something to the contemporary scene in our city.

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the kitchen and restaurant at the factory

As to the front yard, had it been intended as a vegetable garden… to go with the vegetarian restaurant inside, or was it an artistic statement without having to rely on history? in any case, there’s an abandoned hole in the middle of the front yard amidst the bushes, and a few garden tools thrown in. Next to the hole, you can find the bottom half of the gardener sticking straight out of the ground, fully clothed, as if the ground had half swallowed him.

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don’t despair, dear gardeners

The fence that borders the courtyard has a naive ‘back to nature’ theme punctuated by the bicycle parts that landed on the chain link fence above the more traditional stone. And peeking through, across the narrow alley that separates between the houses, we can see the building style typical of our city; houses built of stone, metal shutters. It’s already part of the past. But they’ll last a long time till they’re replaced.

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In the central room there’s a sort of fountain… maybe a goldfish aquarium…. for the fish are certainly there… where once stood a statue of a fully dressed woman, looking to the side, her hands in her pocket, her hair piled over her head… sadly, only her legs remain. But we have the consolation of watching the goldfish swim around as we await our lunch. There are two choices: yellow curry rice with cabbage and cauliflower and rice with beans. We ordered both of the plates on the menu, and the food was satisfactory.

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Along the hallway, between the kitchen/restaurant and the main room, I found a very interesting white board with a great number of illustrations of the artistic caliber you might find in an ancient cave. But if the art was a bit amateurish, it should stand forever as a testament to freedom of expression. Up on top towards the left, you may recognize the flag of Israel. But instead of the star of David in the center, it has the symbol of the shekel, which is the basic currency of our country. To the right of that is “the factory” which is the name of the venue. And under that is the picture of an ambulance, police, and fire department coming from right to left. On the left is the hand holding the sling shot, and under that are the numbers you call for ambulance, police or firemen and after that, ‘cultural terror attack’, with a question mark after that.

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Yesterday and today we’ve had rain. The temperature has gone down to normal for winter. The air has been cleaned. And in the very same area of town that we visited on Thursday, we had an entirely different adventure just yesterday…. but knowing how easily the past is forgotten, I wanted to jot this down before it was lost in the past…

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Tilapia Rossa

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Happiness is a state of mind, and its approach on cats paws is hardly noticed. To awake to the sounds of birds chirping, and the sun flowing into the room through the window, sunlight spilling on to the table, catching bits and pieces of the immediate environment… when the heart is calm… How simple it is. How difficult to describe.

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On an evening, a few days ago, after Janne returned from work, after exchanging stories of our separate days… music in the dining room… she’d brought some groceries with her. Are you hungry, she asked, taking a sip of the red wine we had bought earlier, two for the price of one. Not hungry, I said… but I could enjoy a bite to eat. It’s been so long since I’ve been hungry. It’s enough to have appetite these days.

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And then I saw the fish. Two reddish fish, complete. With heads and tails, on the cutting board. Patiently, she removed the last of the scales on the fish, and then covered them with flour. There was a sense of the complete, looking at the image of the fishes. Not slices… not pieces, meant to be objects of food… but the actual creature we were about to eat. The fire warmed the kitchen. The corn oil heating up in the pan. The thoughts that had saddened me in past weeks had slipped out the door… and the beauty of the neighborhood, the calm which enveloped me, and Janne’s decision to go back to painting after years of being ‘just too busy’ filled our little world with happiness.

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My senses were wide awake. The feeling was that of being surrounded by good. Our celebration wasn’t noisy. No fireworks, no shouts… Just the smells of the kitchen, the soft purr of the potatoes boiling in the background, and the fish sizzling in the pan… sweet music coming from the speakers in the corner of the dining room and an awareness of the whole. That all encompassing feeling of completeness is peace. And peace is one of the major ingredients of happiness.

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It was the first time for both of us that we ate that particular fish. It’s called Admonit in Hebrew, Tilapia Rossa in English. The taste was an unqualified delight. When I first looked at all the food on my plate, I didn’t think I could finish it. It seemed half of it would be fine for me. But I ate it all… the fish, potatoes and yams. The experience was one of sensitivity, lightness and satisfaction, and … a harmony of the senses, including love and friendship. The fish’s skin was tastily devoured by Charley the cat.

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To my friends and readers, my best wishes for a happy weekend. May we enjoy all our five senses, with peace in our hearts. The days go by… whether appreciated or not. How blessed it is to enjoy an hour.

happiness and spirituality

Probably, like a lot of other people, I have been meeting a much wider variety of human beings since I started reading blogs on the internet. And I have always been quite open to the possibilities of meeting people who were different than myself. I used to talk to people I met on the street. And I would pick up hitch hikers. And would meet people in my travels, and people in taverns. My home away from home, when I was young, was in libraries. But you don’t meet that many people in libraries, because silence is strictly enforced. Not to speak of the fact that people are usually very involved with the books they are reading or studying. But as I say, I used to get around, and I would meet a lot of people.

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this stamp celebrates love

Most of them were not anything like me. And I found that quite interesting. I learned from so many people I met. Sometimes it seemed to me, that every person I’d meet, would open up a new aspect of this world for me. Very often, I would meet people who believed in different things that I didn’t believe in. I would meet people who were cruel to animals, or who had little respect for cleanliness or who were racists or misogynists. Now, I could have kept my distance from people who had different values than mine, or who did things I did not approve of. But I started out young, trying to understand what this world was about, and I decided to be very open minded; to listen to what others had to say, and then to decide for myself. What worked for me, was to look for the good in people, and not to spend too much time on those things that didn’t attract me. I was too young and too inexperienced to be a teacher to others. I figured that what mattered, was the good that I could find.

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a butterfly on a stamp

It’s the same as when you go looking for new food that you don’t know. Why pick up a nut, and break your teeth on the shell, or struggle with it, trying to eat it like a peach? Best to watch how others eat it; discard the shell, and enjoy the meat inside. If someone offers you fish, why waste your time checking how sharp or stiff the bones are? Discard the bones, and eat the fish. So, I applied this attitude to getting to know people too.

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the flag of Israel in honor of independence day

This week, I read two blogs that interested me especially. They are not blogs I read for fun. When I’m just looking to enjoy myself, I like a good story… or amusement. I like to smile as I read. I’m always interested in seeing an interesting image. But it’s wearying for me to see one peak image after another. I know some bloggers who’ll knock you off your feet with what they’ve photographed. But after being knocked over twice or three times… I get kind of achy. My behind hurts… or my knees. And it’s hard getting up off the floor a lot… especially at my age. You can get tired that way, and just want to sit on the couch, and drink a cup of tea. So even when it comes to images, I like a good story.

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another butterfly

But these two blogs that I read… they are the blogs of two women who have gone through some difficulties in life. One of them has described the hell she’s seen. And the other doesn’t talk about it. But you know, I get the feeling… One of them, Genie is her name, wrote about happiness. What I liked about her post, is that she didn’t tell others how to attain happiness. She wasn’t telling me what to do. She was just describing what makes her happy. And I can tell you, that when you read a lot of blogs, you run into a lot more people telling you what makes them unhappy, than you do a blogger telling you what makes him or her happy. So that is the sort of post I find interesting. She had a list of 15 paths to happiness. Number one was: “Do random acts of kindness”. Now this is not for me. I will confess to you, that just doing part of the acts of kindness that I feel called upon to do in my life is a challenge that I haven’t met with great success. Usually, by the end of my day, I feel that I haven’t managed to do even a fourth of what I planned to do… and occasionally, I don’t even get to one part in twenty. So I’m not going to go looking for random acts of anything. And the list goes on to mention other things that would not bring me much happiness. I’m sure. But it did have three suggestions that I could completely agree with, and I want to share them with you.

12. Respect everyone even those folks you do not understand.
I would agree with this, and I think this is the proper way to live. Giving respect to others is not a sacrifice on our part. We lose nothing by doing this. And the advantages are great. Foremost, the other person will be more willing to find a bridge between the two of you, and to cooperate with you.

13. Get plenty of sleep
Now everyone needs a different amount of sleep. There are those who need very little sleep per day, and others who feel completely rested only if they sleep ten hours a day. I slept five hours a day most of my life. But my father slept ten hours. And he had no fewer accomplishments than I have. What’s important, is that you get enough. I don’t use an alarm clock. And I’ve found that when you’re well rested, you won’t want to be lying around in bed. You’ll want to get up and start doing things… happily!

15. Know that happiness comes from within – no one or no material good can make you happy
This was the last thing on the list. And I thought it was the most important. We often fixate on some goal, or some material possession that we think will make us happy. This is partially due to all the propaganda we listen to by commercial interests. The truth is what Genie suggests, that happiness has to come from within ourselves, when we are whole with ourselves, and in harmony with the world.

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a picture of Martin Buber, found on a small package of sugar in a coffee house. He was a writer and a philosopher, with a great interest in Jewish mysticism

I think I’ve written enough here. I’m including some stamps I’ve noticed lately, and a little parcel of sugar I found in a coffee house. I will post the second part on this subject soon. And then I’ll tell you of my reaction to the question, how can we find spirituality… or god? We’ll discuss that in a few days… and meantime, let’s see how happy we can be.