By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sat, May 05 2012 - 9:38 pm
May 30, 2012 Madison, IN
When I was studying geometry in high school our teacher told us: "When you are doing a geometric proof and don't know what to do next, substitute."
When studying the problems of life, I find that when in doubt, you should choose comfort.
Sure, I've heard that one should keep a balance between comfort and challenge in life, but I've found that the offerings of life, if not judiciously met with a strong blend of self-indulgence and laziness, are comprised of myriads more challenges than comforts.
You yourself will most likely have to provide the comforts for yourself.
So - when I read an article about how Italian women have an average of twelve pairs of heels and I reflect on my one pair of outrageous heels which my sister has practically rendered unwearable by describing them as "fuck-me shoes," I console myself with one word: comfort.
I have lots of comfortable footwear - walking shoes and sandals and boots galore. I am ready for cold and hot, rain and snow and shine. I may not have heels, but I have Keens.
So well-stacked women (or is that well-stack-heeled women? Hmm, both!) get more dates, sex and romance in their lives? Well, at least I'm blonde. (Er, was. Now I guess my hair might be best described as dirty-dishwater grey!)
Go ahead, you well-heeled women, look down on the grey in my hair from your towering spikes and wedges. My life may be deprived of the luxuries of Manolos, face-lifts and fewer toes, but I am dry and my undivorced toes are happily housed.
I have the consolation of comfort.
And there isn't any substitute for that!
May 28, 2012 Madison, IN
I have been reading the first volume of a reprint of all of Walt Kelly's Pogo starting in 1948.
I loved Pogo as a child, and now I wonder how much the strip inspired my present-day silliness.
So now, this Memorial Day, I want to remember not only my dad but wonderful Pogo (which I swear I must have been reading since I was one year of age!) and of course, orioles.
Yeah, I kind of like the idea of celebrating forgetfulness also!
May 27, 2012 Madison, IN
Finally got around to hearing a recording of the nightingale's song on the internet today.
Amazing! What is the big deal about the nightingale? I think the brash, physically showy New World mockingbird might be a more impressive songbird.
For magic (from my all-time birdwatching experience) I would have to give the award to the wood-thrush (or was it a hermit thrush? Dang! It's a good thing the birds don't care!) whose liquid tones in a woods only dappled by occasional sunlight enthralled me like no other birdsong I have ever heard.
For sheer virtuosity and long melodic line, I have to give the award to an anonymous bird holding forth with great exuberance and great length along the river at the Alsea State Park in Oregon.
For comedy? Turkeys. For variety in adolescent noise-making? Ravens.
What are your favorite birdsong experiences?
May 25, 2012 Madison, IN
Saw another twenty-five-year-old film today with existentialist roots. Hell, for all I know it was set back in the fifties when the existentialists were rampant. What do I know about style?
The movie was good, but I don't understand the problem with thinking the universe is random. I can understand how the very religious hierarchists who want to think that someone is in charge might have problems, but why do supposedly scientific types have so much trouble with the idea that the planet might be around for only hundreds of millions of years?
What possible difference can it make to us, personally? How could our lives possibly not be worth bothering about because the end is coming?
The end is coming. The end has always been coming, even from the very beginning, if such a thing ever really existed at all.
How self-important were the existentialists? How self-important can people be?
I can agonize over the eventual deaths of those I know, including myself. (Well, not for long, I admit. I don't have much capacity for tragedy anymore, if I ever did.)
But how can people put down their pens, their hammers, their paintbrushes, their accounts because this wonderful world around us might have happened by accident?
These guys spent so much time sobbing about the fact that God the Father is dead I wonder if they ever got around to reproducing themselves for another generation.
Hmmm.... interesting study. How many of the existentialists had grandchildren?
May 24, 2012 Madison, IN
Excruciating excoriations scar my poor scalded ego. Ergo I scold my brain for its excessive carelessness.
Whyfore can't it think strait? Why mine mind spends its little grey inside the cells instead of outside in technicolor?
Expletives just pooch out like a blubbery stomach and explosive sighs cover inane lobes - if lobelia is a disease, I've got it!
Even nonsense is hard now. Where is the lightness and the flightness - the likeness and the tykeness?
Cardbored boxes wall up my mind as they shore up my walls.
Explanations explore but exit emptyminded.
Exit, damn sunspot! Eclipse my mental elipses.
My screen blipses.
May 23, 2012 Madison, IN
Young people! You aren't going to get much of the "Back in my day..." from me. Well, of course that isn't true. Back in my day we young people didn't drive as much and society (at least in my small town) didn't have as much variety in the marketplace as it does now.
But also, and this is heartfelt:
Back in my day you didn't have to take a drug test in order to get a job. I consider it to be a ridiculous invasion of privacy! I could understand it maybe if you are going to be a bus driver or a fork lifter, although even then I think it is a little excessive. But to have a drug test to be a clerk or grocery worker? Spare me.
However, insofar as I am looking for work, I understand that I might have to undergo the test and I will swallow my outrage as much as possible. But do I ever resent have to forego the poppyseed bagels!
Back in my day you didn't have to have a college degree in order to get a minimum wage job. Admittedly, I mostly worked for within a nickle an hour of minimum wage, but that was because I wasn't ambitious. I worked alongside many a person who did not have a college degree. In fact, in those jobs I was an educational minority.
Oh, and I had no college debt. None!
I'm not one of those old folks yakking about the young. (Er, well, hardly ever.)
I don't blame the loss of the good old days when you could support yourself on a part-time minimum-wage job if you would forego a car on the young.
I blame the loss of the good old days on the loss of the good old people - those of the generation or half before mine.
And, yes, I must confess, probably mine, too. Us.
Shame on us!
May 21, 2012 Madison, IN
Moving to a new community? Want to feel at home sooner than you might have after a similar move in the past?
I remember times when I didn't feel really at home until I had been somewhere for six months - six lonely months.
We feel at home already. Admittedly we had visited Madison and liked it immediately.
In addition, though, my partner has a job and I have already started volunteering. Doing the Friends of the Library Book Sale as I did in Valparaiso made me feel at home at once, even if the faces were not familiar.
I must admit, though, that the increased standardization of cabinetry in our apartment also might have something to do with our comfort level.
I couldn't tell you what house I have lived in with cabinets like the ones here, but they seem very familiar. The ceilings are comfortably high, too. Low ceilings make me claustrophobic.
And of course, maybe it is the parade of friendly apartment neighbors that we encounter frequently.
This building is built like a motel, with a balconey on the second floor and our cars parked in the lot directly in front of our rooms.
Maybe that adds to the wonderful sensation of being on holiday while feeling at home!
May 20, 2012 Madison, IN
Our kitchen window frames a view, from the other end of the room, of a catalpa tree full of billowy white blossoms.
The closer you get to the window, the smaller the blooms look. You can see this whole side of the tree. You can see more of everything around, including the parking lot and the river, but for some reason the blossoms just look smaller.
Of course people have known for a long time about frames. Frames can add magnificence, focus, color, and emphasis. But I never before noticed that frames, by isolating their subjects, can change their apparent size.
Another optical illusion.
Makes me wonder if that is why certain windows exist in buildings. Not just to let in light, not just to show a beautiful view, but also to bring some particularly interesting or lovely object closer.
Hold on while I reach my arm out the window, across the balcony and parking lot, and into the tree to pick some of those oh-so-tantalizing flowers!
May 18, 2012 Madison, IN
Crunching scrumblebum further into my fairleather chair, I relish turkeyburgers and savor old foreign films about older films that almost make me cry romantic droplets into my mustard sauce.
Bleu cheese and blue memories blend with the blues coming from - huh? What?
Oh, yeah, the Folk Music and Arts Fair is here! The music isn't really the blues, although those may come - this music isn't purely what we used to call folk.
The fair is calling, but it is loud enough from here, our new apartment! We will get out a little later, or maybe tomorrow or Sunday.
Right now is lazy movie's over dozy time - it has been a doozy of a day, very little work and lot's of play!
I heave a big sigh of release and green leaf.
May 17, 2012 Madison, IN
Cabin fever day; so much to do inside I haven't been out for more than forty-five minutes or so, plus sitting on the balcony while eating.
Just applied to the police department for a clerical job. Am I now going to feel all paranoid about jaywalking?
I have never yet gotten a job with a resume, so I was all grumpy and depressed about having to write one and provide a cover letter, on top of which I scrubbed the bathroom and hung around until noon.
The pest control guys finally came at 2:15, but I did take a chance and go out during lunch hour after I heard a rumor they would be here shortly after one.
We don't have a printer set up here yet, but did you know you could write an email, send it to another account (but unaccountably my other email account didn't receive it! Can Yahoo tell I'm talking to myself?)
If you highlight your text and hit Control C, then open a new file in Word and hit Control V, you can print it out on a fresh piece of paper and no one will know you created it as a composed email.
Is this commonly known? I thought I was uncommonly clever to remember those old commands, but maybe everyone knows the trick.
Well, if you already know it, send me an email, and I'll copy it and put it here. (Or just write something else for today, if I can get over my lack of inspiration.)
May 16, 2012 Madison, IN
Usually in Valparaiso the first bird I would hear in the morning would be the robin. Today it was a song sparrow.
I think. The only trouble is, it could have been a mockingbird imitating the song sparrow. I don't think so, though. Usually the mockingbirds' phrases are short and repetitive.
I haven't heard a mockingbird try to imitate a mourning dove. I think. Maybe the morning dove's call is too low in pitch? Too tender?
It seems to me the mockingbirds are pretty brash critters. Maybe what they gain in variety they lose in subtlety. I hear their blue-jay and think, not quite, but almost.
I used to have an ornithology prof, Dr. Krekeler, who could identify many birds by their calls. That was up in Northern Indiana. I wonder if down here he would be telling his students, "No, I agree that sounds alot like the tufted titmouse, but really it's a mockingbird imitating a tufted titmouse."
For those of us who, like me, have trouble remembering a call long enough to verify a sighting by hearing a recorded bird song on the computer, it might just be the death knell of identification by song.
Still, there is a wonderful abundance of birds around here. We have seen a kingbird twice in two days, and also a little black and yellow bird (warbler?) whose song goes kind of like -
well, never mind.
May 13, 2012 Madison, IN
Well, today is the thirteenth. Good thing it is a Sunday. Otherwise it might be raining outside.
Er, oops! It is raining outside!
Well, at least we are mostly moved in, and -
"Ouch!" I just tripped over the vacuum cleaner, which has no spot to stay because we are not mostly moved in. We are mostly in stasis because more storage space means more money spent and more money means less savings.
Or would that be fewer savings. And...hmm... why don't we say "less savation"?
Hoarders think that their saved objects are their salvation and divestation is devastation.
I look back at my past collecting times and think it has more to do with salivation (figuritively, over figurines!) than salvation. Ointment collecting I have never been into much.
Maybe Sunday the thirteenth isn't about bad luck or salvation. Maybe it's just what it is today: rainy and prone to inducing rumination!
I almost said "inspiring" but I meant it as a verb, not an adjective.
Hey, don't blame me if my writing is not inspirational!
What do you expect on the thirteenth?
May 11, 2012 Madison, IN
What is going on with the Christian religion lately?
The other day we saw a sign, "Heaven is for people who are SAVED, not for people who are GOOD."
Whaa...? This is a total distortion of Martin Luther's teachings (although the perps of this signage are probably not Lutheran and probably ignorant of the original thinking behind their awful statement.)
When I was growing up there was not so big a distinction between being "saved" and being "good." It was kind of assumed that, being Christian, you would try to follow his teachings about loving your neighbor etc. and of course you would try to be as good as you possibly could be.
Who would want to be in Heaven anyway, if it is chock full of nasty bad people?
Oh, why do I even bother, I don't believe in Heaven anyway. It is bad enough being here on earth, with all the "saved" people who don't think it is important that they also be good.
May 10, 2012 Madison, IN
What makes people decide they are settling somewhere for good? What finally decides people to choose one place rather than another?
Maybe a move like the one we have just had would be enough to do it! Moving is a good deal of work.
I have never moved any place where I have felt at home so soon as I do here. After ten days we feel quite comfortable - or would if we had storage for all our stuff gracefully worked out.
Having a partner helps, of course. I was not completely among strangers even on our first day.
But settle here knowingly for the rest of my days, planning never to leave and live elsewhere?
Maybe not. Maybe I will never make such a move.
The world is such a big and varied place! In my case, it may be true that there is no place like home - and viva la difference!
May 9, 2012 Madison, IN
The American Queen is back again, for the whole day this time. I'm kind of surprised the townspeople aren't flocking around more to see it, but then again, we haven't been invited on board for a look-see.
The mockingbirds were flirting around midair, higher than second-floor level. One of them lured the other from its hiding place in a smallish, well-formed maple, then they appeared to be playing tag for a short while.
Their interaction became more frequent and more close until finally they plunged together, their bodies indistinguishable, to the ground.
I couldn't see them very well down there, but it looked as if one of them separated out very quickly, preened a little, then looked around as if to say, "Well, that's that. What's next?"
Couldn't help but think that one was the male!
The mockingbirds' songs are so varied I am tempted to make up a call myself and whistle it on the balcony several times a day to see if the mockingbirds will pick it up.
My only reservation is whether I can whistle anything loud enough to be heard.
Even small birds can certainly sing with volume and projection!
May 8, 2012 Madison, IN
After weeks obsessed with moving, I am coming to the conclusion that changes in environment, while bringing to light all the amazing variations in what we call the world, are not particularly conducive to ruminations on lofty higher philosophical subjects. More practical matters take the spotlight such as, "Where the hell did I leave that hammer?"
So Rumilluminations these may not always be, but if you want to hear about a different part of the world (or even your own through different eyes) I will try not to disappoint until I am more settled and thoughtful.
Here's a practical matter for you to think about: we just saw a gas station with gas priced at $3.54! Ironic considering that we have even less need to get into the car than we used to, for the most part. I still haven't found a good way to get to what they call "the hilltop" here by bike or on foot, though. Are there any Madison explorers here who can help me with this?
Since you probably live far away and cannot help me, I encourage you to find your own alternate route! Why drive four miles through traffic when you can cut through the wasteland by walking one? (Ha, I just realized I made a pun.)
Or, if you are constantly on the move yourself, which do you think leads to more contemplation? Maybe responding to a constantly changing environment inhibits inwardness while you are traveling, but when you finally do plop yourself down in one spot for a while, you get more perspective.
Yours truly, with more rumin than illumine, Esther the Queen of Introspection. (Now temporarily deposed by practical matters, such as "Where the hell did I pack my throne?")
May 5, 2012 Madison, IN (!)
After five days' frenetic moving activity, I am finally settled down enough to write.
Five exciting days! May 1 was moving day. We decided to circle Indianapolis in a wider arc than provided by 465, partly because our stuffed-to-the-gills car made us feel like turtles (no natural science accuracy intended.) Thanks to this fortuitous decision, we missed an incredible storm in Indianapolis, part of one that resulted in a tornado touchdown an hour to the west of that city.
Although we stayed away from the storm for the most part, our movers (Two Men and a Truck *****!) were not so lucky. They went through the godawful rain in Indianapolis, and when they arrived in Madison were greeted by tornado warning sirens. Why they live in Valparaiso!
We arrived in the calm after the storm about ten minutes after they had moved all our stuff in, so we missed the sympathy labor pangs, and on arriving upstairs in our apartment, we were greeted by our concrete kitty resting on the trunk at the foot of our bed!
How nice was that? I haven't heard anything bad about these movers.
May 2, Wednesday a.m. we had our morning coffee sitting on the balcony watching the river go by. We seem to have traded watching squirrels' hijinks to surveying scalloping mockingbirds singing as they fly.
Then we worked worked worked. Another storm, but one of shredded paper, packing paper, and cardboard boxes.
May 3 Thursday morning I took my coffee to the balcony and saw what looked like a giant wedding cake right in front of our apartment building! Well, it was really a football field's length away, in the water.
It was the riverboat American Queen. It stayed the morning, allowing its passengers to tour downtown Madison, then played tunes on what sounded like a big out of tune merry-go-round calliope. After that concert, it headed up the river.
Living right on a river is something I have never experienced before. It is kind of like living in a theatre, where the scenery changes before you (sometimes, in our case, behind a curtain of fog!)
One of our neighbors said that seven years ago the river came up to the red fire hydrant half a block (or less!) from the building. That was a little disconcerting to me, but he said he didn't get nervous. At least he, like us, lives on the second floor!
May 4, yesterday, we kept unpacking and went to the library. Lovely people! We asked if they had a movie club and they said, "What a wonderful idea!" It sounds as if they can provide the space and we will be the moderators. Wonderful, indeed.
Then we went to a furniture store and bought a table. We got two pieces of furniture for 200 dollars. Honestly, I could not for anything get a decent round (or in our present case, rounded) table for one hundred dollars twenty years ago in Santa Fe. The proprietor of the store delivered it immediately and at no expense to us the four blocks to our apartment.
Food seems to be less expensive down here, also, but we seem to be unable to grasp the fact that we are not on vacation, and ate out last night at the Key West Shrimp House, walking both ways. My coconut shrimp was poised on the plate just ready to leap onto our forks. Tasted good, too.
We followed dinner with a movie (Mirror, Mirror) - a scant quarter mile scroll from home.
On top of all its other charms, this place is incredibly friendly.
So today, Saturday, we are beginning to feeling really at home. We made juice for the first time, did laundry, and unpacked some more.
We saw the Kentucky Derby on TV and it seemed meaningful that the race was happening only an hour away in Louisville. We really enjoy the fact that we see another state, Kentucky, just by looking across the river.
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