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Rumilluminations Now
By: Esther Powell
Posted on: Tue, September 01 2020 - 7:41 am



October 1, 2020
Madison IN

Another pedestrian-automobile incident, this time resulting in a death at the most dangerous intersection in town has me feeling combative about the way traffic is not managed here.

Even before this most recent death of a fifty-eight-year-old man, in this year alone an elderly friend of ours has been hit twice within half a block of Jefferson (highway 421) and Main (highway 56), luckily escaping both times without major injury.

My partner called one of our city councilors about the issue, and he said that particular intersection is really under the jurisdiction (maybe not the right word) of the State because 421 is a state highway. He should register a complaint with the Indiana Department of Transportation.

We're you aware of this division of responsibility? Do you have dangerous spots near you that will not be dealt with by your local government?

No one has ever before told me this very relevant detail about where the buck stops at the local/state level.


September 30, 2020
Madison IN

During the so-called debate, which I think would be more accurately described a snarling session, the current president huffed that the Democrats are trying to get people to hate our country.

I plead innocent! We are optimistically attempting to make the country become the wonderful place it has the potential to be, surpassing the beauty even of the visions of the founding fathers!

Maybe he is confusing the hatred we have towards the perpetrating of bad behaviors with hatred of the people who commit them.

Hmm...interesting that he seems to take it all so personally.


September 29, 2020
Madison IN

This morning I go for a tooth extraction (I always want to say excavation, haha - sob.) I am currently on three medications and I hold that sad fact responsible for the gaga that is me. Lady, step aside.

I normally try not to bore you with details too idiosyncratic of my personal life, unless I deem them of universal value. Of course, reaching for universality is a pretty bold move.

Anyway, tooth number 1 is going away today, along with one quarter of my wisdom. Students of dementia take note: is my current state of nonsense drug, age, or pain induced?

Um, gotta take that ibuprofen.



September 28, 2020
Madison IN

In bed this morning, I had a mystical experience. Engaged in my normal ruminations, all of a sudden a gentle wave of pure joy and light and calm wafted into my head.

It seemed like a visitation from some sweet spirit from beyond - a relative, maybe. Of course after savoring the feeling for a while, I had to start analyzing the source.

Maybe, in spite of impressions, the source came from within, not from without.

Maybe some physiological mechanism cleared an obstruction in my brain (or my sinuses!)

Perhaps various combinations of the (medicinal, alas) drugs I have been taking induced the experience.

Oh, no! Maybe someone died!

No, it felt like Enlightenment.

Or maybe it was a contact high from reading Hippie Woman Wild by Carol Schlanger.






September 27, 2020
Madison IN

Lately I have been suffering from dental issues. It makes me wonder if my diet during some crucial period of tooth formation was inadequate or whether my genes have something to do with it. I learned from my father (whose birthday would have been celebrated today) to be pretty assiduous about tooth care, so I try not to blame myself for the trauma I am currently undergoing.

And trauma it is, even though I try to be philosophical about it.

Often I have dealt with pain by walking. It doesn't exactly make the pain go away, but the change of scenery is distracting and the exercise is good for you, right? Gets the juices flowing, anyway. 

Yesterday that wasn't enough even with a clove on my gum, and at some point my misery overcame my fear of medicinal side effects and I downed 400 milligrams of ibuprofen which moved me from suicidal to merely self-pitying. Distraction is a pretty good remedy for that.

At bedtime my partner suggested using a wet warm chamomile teabag on the offending tooth. Wow, that helped too! Of course I also drank the tea.

The last few days have been an altogether too excellent reminder of what misery ill health can induce. My compassion for those in pain has been given a much-needed boost (I realize.)

My old age tightrope is getting slacker, narrower and higher off the ground - one descriptor for every medication I am currently taking.

May you stay off the tightrope for many years to come!


September 25, 2020
Madison IN

Coronavirus deaths in Indiana have reached 3,322, according to statistics put out in this state, I'm assuming. The New York Times, however, reports Indiana as having had 3,548 deaths as of midnight last night.

Those statistics are pretty highly divergent for a supposedly democratic society with objective reporting. Judging from the way people around our town talk, if a relative were to die from coronavirus, they would blame the death not on the disease but on whatever chronic conditions the victim suffered. Good way to remain in denial.

Meanwhile the national total has mounted to 202,707 disproportionately minorities, if the ratios remain the same. I will leave you to decide the implications of that deplorable condition, lest I be accused of radical ranting.



September 24, 2020
Madison IN

Jack London may have been able to make me doubt the existence of God, but even he could not have made me consider the possibility that the U.S. Postal Service would cease to exist in my lifetime.

The world I grew up in is tottering. I guess that's just part of growing old. Makes me realize just how lucky my generation was.




September 23, 2020
Madison IN

For a while now I've been reading quite a few books via Kindle Unlimited and inexpensive ebooks BookBub has made me aware of. I'm reading along, perfectly content, when all of a sudden I get the eerie feeling something has changed.

Sometimes it is kind of a softening of the images the way your vision changes when you unfocus your eyes. When I read a passage like that, I suspect that the author is taking from his personal history - genuine recollection. I have written about this before.

Just now I experienced a sharpening of the imagery that sent a different message to my brain: motion picture. This worries me a little. Is our literature becoming unduly influenced by the movies?

My partner mentions photography not being able to supplant painting, but oh how photography changed pictorial art - so much so that the word pictorial seems wildly inappropriate - and probably isn't used any more.

Here I am, writing on a screen about books I am reading on a screen, worried about the screen taking over.

Ha, ha! A fait accompli.


September 22, 2020
Madison IN

Yesterday I saw a young squirrel with a magnolia fruit half as big as he. It had beautful bright red berries on it. Why have I not seen those ripe colorful fruits in over eight years of living here? Hmmm... I think I just answered my own question. I wonder how many critters like magnolia? Turns out people can eat them also - petals, leaves (a substitute for bay leaves) and fruits. Even bark can be decocted into an anti-arthritis remedy.


September 21, 2020
Madison IN

I saw a notice in The Week about a Scandinavian organization that is offering grants to people who have no plans - for doing nothing.

Dang! I should take another look at that! (I wonder what they are really looking for?)

Last day of summer tra-la tra-la had a beautiful brisk walk after ten o'clock this morning!



September 20, 2020
Madison IN

Here's a book title for you: The Art of the Meal

Earlier this morning, obviously, I must have been ruminating on Donald Trump, who I think must have been unduly influenced in his early childhood by the comic strip Dennis the Menace and the story about the Gingerbread Man.

All I can say is, Dennis er I mean Donald, you had better beware of the - but no! I am one of the townspeople trying to chase you down! 


September 19, 2020
Madison IN

Seems to me a lot of countries have the same problem: they have an entrenched power system of old males.

The U.S. doesn't seem much better to me than China in that regard.

What's with these guys? Don't they have anything better to do than try to control everything?

This, by the way, is a bipartisan complaint.




September 18, 2020
Madison IN

I've been reading The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein and shocked by the pervasiveness and deadly serious intention (and unbelievable perseverance) of those who believe in segregation to keep it the prevailing norm.

Sure, I may have heard a shocking story or two over the years, but I failed to see how pervasive the problem is, just as when I read Ibsen's play The Master Builder I failed to realize the universal warning it held.

Maybe at a tender age the realisation of the evil in the world would have been just too much to bear. Perhaps I was taught too well not to rush to judgment.

Or possibly - quite likely - I am just clueless!

Don't be like me! Read The Color of Law!




September 17, 2020
Madison IN

Today, walking by Firemen's Park, I noticed it was tidier and better groomed than I had ever seen it. What's more, there were multiple portapotties in a row along the street. Something was obviously up.

Seeing a man parked in a truck in front of the park, I ask him if he knows what's planned. A free boat race the public is invited to attend, he answers, this weekend. It will involve thirty or forty boats, and he mentioned the word "vintage." I don't know if only vintage boats are racing.

I don't quite understand why, the Regatta having been cancelled, the city is allowing a boat race to be attended, possibly by hundreds. Whoever is running it is accepting donations, but I don't know who that is.

We shall see. And hear a lot of noise, sounds like!

The vultures will definitely be happy this weekend.


September 16, 2020
Madison IN

Tired of generational name-calling? I never even heard of a "generation gap" until the 1960's. The concept, even insofar as it is genuine at all, must certainly be tied to the rapidity of technological change in the twentieth century.

If differences are to be accurately described these days, maybe they should be called semigenerational or even demidecadanal. Surely the person born in 1991 spent her childhood in a vastly different culture than one born in 2001.

I myself never considered myself a boomer in the sense of a young person who feels the right to untrammelled freedom so often attributed to us. Demography may have some statistical validity, but really won't much help you understand the people next door.




September 15, 2020
Madison IN

Just saw a plane coming toward us with lights on seemingly out of Louisville all lit up and SILENT. When we first saw it we couldn't tell what it was, and after I looked at it through binoculars I thought it was a biplane. My partner looked again and said no, and he was right. As it flew upstream towards Cincinnati close enough to see its jet shape, we started worrying. We could see separate lights on it. We should have heard its engines.

I guess now we can only wait for news. The best news about this will be none.






September 14, 2020
Madison IN

Today I found out there was a Trump rally down along Vaughan Street below the Riverboat Inn and our mayor spoke! Supposedly not a racist, how can he support such a racist?

Presumably not a sexist (although how would I know?) how can he speak at a rally with a huge pink Women for Trump sign prominently displayed?

I read on Facebook an explanation of Trumpists' behavior that explains what seems to be their mindset - "F__k the liberals!" if not the "libtards"

Well, that's a relief! Now I'm freed from trying to understand or explain.

Lucky I walked the other way yesterday!

I will just try to stay civil and vote.


September 13, 2020
Madison IN

Today on my desultory walk I saw the Rockin'Thunder boat folks, who have a couple of rides planned for the day. It was good to see them - their long hair took me back to the sixties - which was fun. Paul said he was going to let his hair grow into an all-out Willy Nelson look - which my partner has already attained thanks to an earlier start.

I took the opportunity to ask them about a submarine accident which I thought they had talked about on our ride to the Kentucky River locks several years ago.

Turns out I had elided two anecdotes together and got the facts wrong. The accident was one of two bombers which were flying up the Ohio River. One went over the bridge at Vevey, the other went under. Which plane came to grief and crashed into the river Paul did not know.

As for the submarine, it was only an idea. The governor of Kentucky (whose territory most of the breadth of the river is) wanted to use submarines to patrol the river - against what threat I do not yet know!

Which is stranger, my concocted fiction or the real story?

Sometimes it's hard to tell.


September 12, 2020
Madison IN

My partner left for work while it was still dark. Yesterday being the anniversary it was, he reminded me of my intention to expand the thought I had about cleaning up messes. Plenty of people worked to clean up Osama bin Laden's mess, even if it wasn't their job.

I got deflected, though, when I turned on the water in the bathroom to wash my plastic nightguard (yes, stress makes me grind my teeth at night as well as grind out words during the day!) and there was no water. Nary a drop.

Of course I had not filled up my eternal pitcher of water. Luckily we had a nice big jug ready for the plants. I appropriated it - they don't need it as much as we do! - and headed to the downtown dollar store.

Since the store hadn't yet opened I went on a walk behind Hillside Inn. Up and down and back again. Yesterday there was water going down the back driveway because the city was cleaning out the water tank uphill. Today the driveway is dry, but now a pipe under Vaughan has broken.

Hmmm... wonder if there is a connection? No water in the pipes created a lack of pressure to resist collapse from traffic above? Is that idea silly? They have had problems with that section of pipe before - once there was a sinkhole there.

On the way back I got water at the only place I know of downtown and walked home with an eightpack under each arm. I feel lucky to have scored any at all. Since they don't have water either, the store is probably closed by now.

I had planned to do laundry this morning, but obviously that has to be postponed. The inconvenience is irritating because that pile is only going to get bigger, but now I sit with my feet up, luxuriating in uncertainty about what I will do next.

I do love that feeling!

Later - now I have read the latest in the New York Times about the western fires and how dire they are, I must tell you (given the name of this site) that the city of Corvallis and Benton County, Oregon have closed local natural parks because of bad air quality and public safety considerations.
My partner and I are hoping all our old acquaintances in the area are doing okay, and sad to see the danger and restrictions you are suffering under... as if coronavirus weren't bad enough.

And glory hallelujah the water is back on. Gee, I forgot to eat breakfast! Brunchtime!





September 11, 2020
Madison IN

Ha, ha, here's one for you: if Stephen Miller lived alone would it be his job to clean up the trash?

Karma is a botch (ha, ha, I said something else, but for once my electronic editor might have said it better!) for shortly after writing yesterday's mal mot I got an instant response from the universe in the form of a dumpster and nine black vultures.

I had just tied up a bag of trash and was on my way out to dump it at seven o'clock in the morning and beheld a depressing disgusting morass of trash including a whole plastic pecked-at bag of detritus outside of the acceptable confines of the structure.

Normally, having outgrown the Puritan instruction of my parents, I don't pick up the little litter I encounter, especially in the time of coronavirus. This outrage, however, was enough to induce a moral dilemma within me. What to do?

I battered away the vultures, threw my trash from an angle into the lidded emptier side of the overflowing mound of disgusting rejects and excretions, and came to a firm decision: this noxious offense must not remain. After all, we do not live in a slum.

I must clean it up, even if it was not my job.

I went back upstairs and asked my partner for a pair of gloves, expressing my intention, and he confessed to having the same urge, although he would normally have called cleaning up after litterers "enabling."

It was a stinky nasty job, but somebody had to do it, and it only took about five minutes of time. I won't go into revolting details.

Who was responsible for the mess? The neighbor who didn't use a bag? The person who didn't bother (or who physically couldn't) deposit his bag well into the dumpster? Or was it the birds?

We were going on a hike so I figured I'd find out in a couple of hours.

When we got back, we found that the vultures had littered again, but not too badly. I accuse them because they were the perps on the scene.

But was botched Karma done with me? Evidently not.

The garbage truck finally came (it should have been here Wednesday mutter mutter grump grump) with trash already on its roof, and as usual, after much grunting and scraping and groaning, departed with the dumpster load minus a full-sized loaded plastic bag and more scattered offenses.

For the second time in the 8+ years we have lived here I donned gloves, grabbed another bag (this time large shopping-sized) and picked up the trash truck's leavings. They were even worse than the vultures'. The stench from that empty dumpster was one of the worst I had ever encountered in my whole life. 

Good thing I was in Cinderella mode.

So here's a question for you, dear readers. If Stephen Miller were living alone in the middle of the forest and a bear took a dump on his front doorstep would it be his job to clean it up?

And would it matter?




September 10, 2020
Madison IN

My partner and I watch a lot of movies. Whenever some character in a fit of anger swipes a tableful of crockery or a deskful of important papers onto the floor I think, I wonder who's going to clean that up? Unfortunately for my poor partner, I also usually say it aloud.

After reading an excerpt in The Week from Hatemongers by Jean Guerrero about Trump and the White Nationalists (including about Stephen Miller) we know, at least, who it will not be.

Even as a student Miller would intentionally make messes and comment that it was someone else's job to clean up.

Extrapolate that attitude to national policy and the cleanup, as we have already seen, will be massive.



September 9, 2020
Madison IN

Ha, ha, anybody who doesn't know what the state of Utah is about has only to look at their state quarters. Talk about phallic symbols!

Next day - I know, know, Indiana's cannon is just as bad, but at least it doesn't have aspirations to heaven!


September 8, 2020
Madison IN

This morning I walked downstream and was pleasantly surprised at how few people were out and about. As I walked by the two rusty cylindrical structures one big, one of very small diameter, there, atop the latter, was a heron!

I'm hoping it was the young one I saw last, perhaps now fully grown. I stood and talked softly to it, and was amazed it didn't fly away. It seemed so close and big with the tall late summer vegetation between us, like the moon when it's rising over the hills. Also the sun was striking the bird at just the right angle to make more than usual detail visible.

Later I saw a hawk on the fence by the ball park, but couldn't identify it for sure - maybe a Cooper's. I murmured to it also, but from that distance it probably couldn't even hear me. You never know, though. Birds have great hearing.

So what if the black vultures feasting at the dumpster don't exeunt until I make it quite clear that they are in danger of getting bopped by my trash if they don't skedaddle?

I fancy myself quite the bird whisperer.



September 7, 2020
Madison IN

Lovely, intoxicating walk yesterday followed by an emotional hangover today induced by my early-morning reading of The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein.

Having been brought up in a racist white town, of course I wasn't aware of the "legal" ways used to keep the African-American population away from the white populations in countless other communities. We weren't exactly taught in school an honest history about racism in the good old U.S.A. I doubt very much my teachers knew much about it. I had no idea that my town was not unusually bigoted.

This book has made me more aware of just how intentional and widespread varietal (more commonly known as "racial") discrimination has been since over a century ago especially as implemented through housing legislation.

Wow. All I can say is Wow. I am not one-fifth of the way through this book yet but I'm already willing to say it should be required reading.



September 6, 2020
Madison IN

Glorious walk this morning along trails 9 and 10 at Clifty Falls on grassy pathss lined with New York ironweed much taller than we were. These giant flowers were accompanied by orange speckled jewelweed, tall bright yellow blossoms in the aster family, thistle, goldenrod, and a milkweed complete with striped monarch caterpillar.

The only spiders we saw were parallel to the path several feet away. We were safe from them, and they from us!

Part of our walk was in woodland, also gorgeous. Ideal sunny weather to enjoy the park, and we went early enough to avoid too much contact with other hikers. Labor Day itself will be a true day of labor for my partner, who has to go to work.

We are nevertheless more than content with our holiday weekend!


September 5, 2020
Madison IN

Here's a little tidbit for those who are following my blahg for the study of a progression of dementia (yes, I made that offer!): for the first time in my life I forgot to pay the rent.

Sure, in the past I have suffered from the failure of the mail service or a glitch of my own. Once when I was renewing my lease my check got put into the wrong envelope and sent to a credit card company instead of the management of the property.

Usually I have the check written and sitting around ahead of time on the TV table, but this time I got distracted.

So there we were, my partner and I, yesterday? drinking our coffee on the balcony, when the landlord drives up in his SUV. Sotto voce I wonder where he's headed but we exchange greetings with no questions. Then my partner turns to me and casually asks, "Did we pay the rent?" He's tactful like that.

I couldn't remember. I ask the landlord, and he smiles and tells me he doesn't know. I make a joke - well you never know with me, always trying to get away with something! and head inside to get my checkbook. The landlord didn't hang around - he's not concerned.

It was the fourth of the month and I had not paid my rent! That's a lifetime first and it has me a little rattled. My only comfort is that my partner, who tends to want to pay for rent days in advance, had not even noticed that the rent check never appeared this time.

Oh boy, there goes the kitchen timer telling me it's time to go downstairs and put the laundry in the dryer. That's another reminder I did not require a few years back.


September 4, 2020
Madison IN

General Butler State Park outside Carrollton, Kentucky was our destination on this perfect hiking day.

We slipped and slid and fell a little along the still-muddy path which often sloped not only up or down, but also to the side.

It was cool in the woods but so noisy from highway traffic that we didn't get any peace for a good stretch of the hike. Walking through grassy sunny paths in between forested sections, we used our walking poles to bat cobwebs out of our way. The spiders at home on the webs had white triangles on their backs. 

After hiking a good part of the loop, we started experiencing deja vu. We had seen this little pond before, all surrounded with vegetation. It looks deep in spite of it's surface size. I remembered going onto Woodland Trail (same as today, must be, because I remembered coming out at the back of the Conference Center same as before.)

Before we started our hike I recalled next to nothing about it except that our hiking was curtailed, but whew! It was still a good hike. If my partner had not packed an energy bar which we shared I might've been in trouble.

Why were our memories so curtailed? My partner said it was almost as if we had been in some kind of dream state.

We walked through the golf course to get back to our car, but this time the grass seemed unmowed. Maybe the coronavirus has curtailed golfing.

I still don't understand the park map. I can relate to Christopher Columbus.

P.S. Turns out the white triangle is on the abdomen of the female Verrucosa arrenata or arrowhead spider. And our last hike on this trail was four years ago almost to the day!



September 3, 2020
Madison IN

One of the most helpful concepts I have ever learned is the idea of a continuum. What better way of showing that reality is not only comprised of black and white?

The hardness of wood can be expressed as a continuum. You hear of soft woods and hard woods - more about hardwood than softwood, I admit. (Is that even a word?) I would love to see a plethora of tree species listed as a continuum - and now that we have the internet, I bet I can! (Well, I just tried and I see graphs which, if turned sideways, make a continuum. Lots of species I never heard of!)

Sex is a continuum - as anyone in the least interested in biology knows. It's hard to believe many people still think there are only two sexes, male and female.

I for one am glad the world is not so simple as that. Of course, any one continuum does not tell the whole story about much. The black charcoal gray steel gray mist grey white continuum doesn't describe rainbow colors at all.

Still, the rainbow itself is a continuum of light frequencies.

No wonder it is the symbol of the gay rights movement!



September 2, 2020
Madison IN

Turns out that paranoia is a contagious disease. Q-anon believers are increasing at the behest of our Paranoid-in-Chief Donald Trump. Inflated ego leads him to believe everything is about him, so even truths that really have nothing to do with him are considered by him to be threats.

The political left isn't helping the situation. Every minor infraction or clumsy verbalization is blown up to ridiculous proportions and meanings far beyond the intent of the speaker. These rabid descriptions seem unreasonable to moderates and discredit the party.

I'm not defending dT. I think he has the moral development of a toddler. In a way that is my definition of evil - the desires of an infant combined with the power of an adult. The "adult" in this case is unfortunately very powerful - therefore a very evil guy.

I also don't think it is hyperbole to call his behavior criminal and I admit he scares me. I am not sure of what he might be capable if citizens do not stand up to him, but Trump is not the Devil. At most he would be a tool.

Of course, unless he dies (or I do) he has plenty of time yet to prove me wrong.

After all, the actions of some men seem to outdo in their evil effects any fanciful Devil figures I have heard of. Historical men of power, however, are harder to deny.

Now that's a depressing thought.

Trump might be worse than the Devil so many believe in. After all, he is real. I don't know anyone, left-leaning political pundit or Q-anon paranoid or coronavirus victim, who tries to deny the existence of Trump.






September 1, 2020
Madison IN

Enter September.

I thought by going up on the hill we might escape the fog. We decided to walk around the park around Johnson's Lake. The fog was still powerful! We walked around three times and since the fog began to lift the scenery was different every time.

Pretty cool, actually.

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