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Rumilluminations June 2012
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Fri, June 01 2012 - 11:44 am

June 30, 2012                                       Madison, IN

As of this morning late, the new bridge section looked about even with the old one - traffic still zooming by.

It may be lifted, but I'm not going to lift myself again to go see it.  Today was another scorcher.

In a way I don't understand my attitude.  When I was young I worked for a few weeks in a field of Christmas trees.  As I recall, we endured a record high of 110 degrees.  The fact that Atlanta was an all-time high of 106 degrees today makes me doubt my memory.


Well, according to weather records on the Internet, the high in Valparaiso, Indiana in June and early July happened before I was born.  Where I got the 110 figure I do not know.  That is okay, though.  Maybe their thermometer was in the sun - and so were we!

But certainly I have been outside in 110 degree weather in Santa Fe that one year.... or did we miss it because we were in California or crossing the Mojave Desert on the way there?  That was 104 degrees at midnight in a car with no air-conditioner!

I knew I had some horror story or another to tell.

Spare yourself and your potential bored listeners.  Don't travel in the summer with no air conditioning!  Why, I learned on the news today that some motor vehicle license testers (Illinois) won't even give you your test drive without AC!

What wusses! 

June 29, 2012                                       Madison, IN

Has the heat wave affected the bridge lift?  Or is it the gusty wind?

Storms seem to have missed us, but they are not far away.  As of an hour or so ago, the bridge was about 3/4 of the way up to the position it needs to be to make the switch.

That is the part I really wanted to see, although judging by the speed of the rest of the process, its snail-pace might be anti-climactic.

This morning I hiked up to Hillside Inn to apply for work and got to see the bridge from an end-on closer point of view.

As of my last sighting there were cars crossing.

Go outside again?  I don't know - it is 100 degrees F out there.

Right after I posted this a big unexpected gust of wind put the electricity out momentarily - twice! - at least in part of the apartment.

I'm going to go out and look at the bridge and see if everything is still aligned.  I can't believe that they will be able to proceed very much with this uncertain weather.

I've returned.  The bridge is just a little below level with the old part (I say that realizing it really might be as much as a dozen feet - from here it looks like four or five.)

Vaughn (the road by the river) is temporarily closed at the intersection at the end of the block while a road crew cleans up a big branch that broke off in the wind.  I hear the electricity is off on the west side of town.

The bridge is at the southeast part of town.

June 28, 2012                                        Madison, IN

This morning the bridge looked the same as it did yesterday - maybe a few feet more off the water.

This evening it was halfway up the distance it has to go.  The new section has a more pronounced dip than the original structure.  I think it will have a more graceful look.

Otherwise, I only went outside to do chores early in the morning.  One of my neighbors who lived in Florida for fourteen years is happy in the heat.

I am happy to escape it.

I've heard that people from India tend to think it is chilly if a cool breeze blows.  I'm not sure that generalization would apply to those from northern locales like Assam.

Who says experience doesn't matter?

June 27, 2012                                         Madison, IN

Well, the big switch of middle bridge parts hasn't happened yet anyway.  People were abuzz and waiting, but nothing much seemed to happen.  When I was outside an hour ago, there were still vehicles crossing the bridge.

The big news of the day, it turns out, is that a small city's worth of people (36,000!) has been evacuated from their homes in Colorado because of fires.

Between the migration of people and the smoke from the fires, it seems as if the whole state must have been affected.  What a traumatic happening!

June 26, 2012                                         Madison, IN

Big news!  Big news!  Tomorrow is supposed to be the day they replace the middle (major) section of the bridge that crosses the Ohio River from Madison, Indiana to Milton, Kentucky.  This is the first time in this country that a bridge has been replaced in this way - one section coming off to one side, the new piece coming in from the other - although I've heard it has been done in Canada (to a smaller bridge, if I remember correctly.)

My neighbor told me the big switch is happening tomorrow, and then said they might do it tonight at midnight ("They've done that kind of thing before.")  Technically tomorrow, but I'm sure not going to stay awake to try to see it.

I wonder which would be worse:  performing such a delicate maneuver at night or during the 100 degree heat predicted for tomorrow?  Makes me imagine how much that big steel structure might expand in that kind of heat.

Engineers are supposed to be prepared for any contingency, and the bridge has got to be designed to deal with extremes of temperature when it has all been assembled, so I'm guessing such concerns are unnecessary if not silly.  When did I get to the point where I think of these things?  I know I never used to worry about such considerations at all.

Maybe it comes from having been married to a civil engineer, or maybe it comes from reading about structures that collapsed under pressures they should have been over-engineered to withstand.

This new technique is supposed to be accomplished with a bridge closure of only three days.

There has already been a death this spring of a construction worker on the bridge.  We are hoping the best for the people who have to perform this exacting task. 

June 25, 2012                                         Madison, IN

I'm beginning to understand how the older generations feel.  I have taken the cell phone in stride - in fact, I abandoned what they call a "land line" in the move which saw my switch to cellular.

I have taken to the Internet - although, admittedly, I can't seem to shine my countenance upon Facebook.

What I can't understand is how hard it seems these days to get a doctor.

Why do I have to fill out a patient request form and have my old medical records sent before a physician with a five-month old practice will even consider giving me health care?

I'm not a bad patient, I don't think.  My dentists, at least, seem to think I am an eminently reasonable one.  Why should it be so challenging to set up a medical appointment?

In the good old days (listen to me!) you could open a phone book and survey all the doctors within the area defined by its cover.

Now I don't even have a phone book.  Well, sure, I can look at one at the library (er, at least you used to be able to do that).  But now there will be at least two books to check instead of one.

I can hear you telling me to look it up on the Internet.  Well, I did.  I entered my zip code and the very first listing on both Bing and Google was for Louisville doctors:  an hour, a state, and several zip codes away.

Of course, the ones that are listed may or may not accept my medicare advantage insurance plan.

I know I am whining, but it is enough to make you break out in hives - and I have.

I'm beginning to think it would be easier to get a job than a doctor (not to mention an on-plan urgent care center within tweny miles) and at my age getting a job is no easy hurdle.

If I do get a job, though, I might just go wherever I want for my medical care.  For the kind of care I usually need my job would pay for it.

The stress of a job can't beat the stress of dealing with the health care system in this benighted society.

June 24, 2012                                         Madison, IN

Madison is certainly a lively waterfront.  Day before yesterday we saw a score or so orange-t-shirt clad bicyclists gathering along the park walk.  We were passing by ourselves, so I asked an older gentleman, also in orange t-shirt, what was happening.

He informed me that for six years straight the Latter Day Saints had sponsored a bike ride from Columbus, Indiana (of architectural interest) over to Madison, across the bridge here, then westward to Louisville to the tabernacle there.

Yesterday a row of vintage cars, hoods up, lined the same stretch of sidewalk.  In the afternoon the shelter of the park in front of our building had a huge bunch of motorcycles grouped nearby.  Presumably some kind of cook-out or picnic, but what exactly was the nature of that gathering I don't know.

And not all the life around is human.  Groundhog sightings are plentiful, and gatherings of geese and black vultures are not uncommon here.  Well, I guess it makes sense that human picnics should be followed by bird picnics, and woodchucks cannot live by wood alone!

Speaking of vultures, I was passing a parking lot not far from the courthouse when I noticed a sculpture I had not noticed before of a bird atop a pole.  I was gazing at it - at first mistaking it for an American Eagle with outstretched wings - when I saw its head (unmistakably reddish and no eagle's!) move.

The sculpture was alive and definitely a turkey vulture.

This river town offers many such intersections between town- and wild-life. 

June 23, 2012                                         Madison, IN

While seeing the movie about Margaret Thatcher with Merle Streep, I was (not for the first time) struck with the phrase, "take a choice" which seems to be commonly used in the U.K.

In the U.S. we say "make a choice," and I have thought in the past that they are more or less interchangeable.

I'm beginning to rethink that.  They may be interchangeable in the language (so far) but I don't think they are psychologically equal at all.

In my mind, one is more externally oriented than the other.

When I hear, "take a choice" I think of objects or options offered from without.  "Here are your choices: take one."

When I think about "making a choice" my imagination comes into play.  What is appealing to me?  What would an ideal choice be?  I'm bringing more of my conscious self into the situation, rather than seeing my unreflective hand reach out and grab something.

Those two phrases will never again be interchangeable in my mind.  "Make a choice" involves an act of creation - you are making your choice rather than accepting something from a list of alternatives dished up by someone else.

That is the difference between those two phrases, and if I had to take a choice between the two, taking and making, I choose to make my own choice, thank you very much!

And, while I'm at it, make a mini-essay out of the act of choosing!

June 21, 2012                                         Madison, IN

Nowadays, in the State of Indiana anyway, you have to get a new driver's license if you change addresses - at least between cities.

Last week we went to get our new driver's licenses.  Oh, but you also have to get new pictures.  No problem.  I hated my last photo anyway.

I stood in front of the camera.  "Push your hair away from your eyes a little."  Done.  "Put your chin down a little."  Okay.  "You can smile but don't show your teeth."  (Why, not?  If I smile without showing my teeth, I tend to look smug, like in my last ugly obnoxious driver's license photo.)  So I smiled, but just a little one.

I really tried hard to be presentable.  When I got my black and white ID photo, I tried to be brave.  So what if I liked it even worse than my last one?  So what if it made me look at least fifteen years older than I really am?  Surely in full color and much smaller it wouldn't be so bad.

It isn't - but not by much.  I even like it a little better than the old one, not because my color is better which it isn't, and not because I look younger, because I don't.  I like it better because I don't look so brashly confident - a look much too young for my years.

Isn't that sad?

Why do they insist upon humbling us as much as possible?

What is going on here?  Have I reached the age where my chief distinguishing features are not my hair, my eyes, my weight - but my distinctive pattern of facial wrinkles?

Aww, I'll get my revenge when the next policeman who stops me will refuse to believe I am the old lady in the photo and is forced to waste his time verifying my identity by my car registration, my signature, and my fingerprints!

June 20, 2012                                         Madison, IN

I love that it stays light so late into the evening here on the western edge of the eastern time zone.

Here it is really not hard to believe that this will be the shortest night of the year - midsummer night!

I'm looking forward to magical dreams.  I think I must have already had some fairy dust sprinkled on me because my hands itch.  Heat rash?  Stress rash?

Maybe tonight I will dream that the fairies have turned me into a nettle or shingles.

Maybe I will dream that my hands are Pogo's friend Porky Pine, who doesn't even care if he is stuck with his own spines!

Eek, even the computer makes my hands feel too hot.  Prickly heat from playing too much Bejeweled 3?  Stress rash from too much noisy crashing and banging from successful tripletings?

Tomorrow morning I will start off with a coolish bath, and try to spend the longest day of the year not being addicted to a computer game.

But today I played crosswords and started imagining myself allergic to ink!  Even reading might be a no-no.  Imagine all the ink on the pages!

Heaven forbid that I should wash dishes or do laundry!  And where are those little green elves that are supposed to help do the work?  Probably chased away by the same fairies that sprinkle me with allergens.

Those fairies have a lot to answer for!

June 19, 2012                                    Madison, IN

Well, here I am in my mid-sixties wondering, like everybody else who manages it, how I got this way.

I tried to be conscious and enjoy my time (as much as one can do if one is also trying high-and-mightily to escape one's circumstances by not actually physically leaving them behind) but somehow sixty-odd years have slipped behind me after all.

Being conscious of the passage of time is kind of like trying to live your life in prayer (or constant meditation - I actually tried that for an hour or two when I was in my thirties.  Every five minutes or so.  Couldn't be done.)

Being conscious of the passage of time is like trying to be constantly on the alert and aware of everything around you.  The next thing you know you are thinking about your daughter instead and there is a small dog gnawing on your ankle and you are living prayerful thanks that it is not a small bear.

Being conscious of the passage of time is like trying to live with the constant awareness of death - "death is always sitting on your left shoulder" (or somesuch.)  Well, death sits there more lightly than the grocery bags I'm trying to balance on my knee when I'm unlocking the door.

Same goes for chocolate cake.  Death doesn't seem to compete well with chocolate cake - at least for my attention!

Thank heaven!

June 17, 2012                                     Madison, IN

My partner and I were talking about people not doing things for themselves (me, maybe jokingly about myself - I don't remember.)

I said, you know, like in that book Ethan Frome - we've talked about it before.

"I remember it well," said my partner.

"I read it in high school," I commented.  "What a cautionary tale!"

"I read it in parochial grade school - assigned by the nuns," replied my partner.


"Well, maybe seventh grade."

I couldn't believe it, and laughed and laughed.

"That's child abuse!"

But I still couldn't stop laughing.

No wonder we are the way we are!

June 16, 2012                                      Madison, IN

We have a little carpentry job that needs doing.  I think my partner decided we needed shelves in the kitchen within a day or two of our moving in.  He could do it, but he gave/lent his power tools to his brothers (we couldn't bring everything) and he feels this job requires them.

He has approached at least five people about the project, which he thinks will take two hours tops.  Even the person who advertised in print, "No job too small" has not gotten back to us two weeks later.

I don't get it.  If economic times are so very hard, how come there is nobody here who wants to do the work?

In Valparaiso we had people approaching us offering help - with yardwork, cleaning and carpentry.

Is the skill level of work-needy people around here (in this much smaller town) inadequate to this little job, or do people just not really want/need work?

Hmmm... maybe we should go to the free store/food bank place and see if there is anyone around who would like to do this job.  Anybody know of any food lines around in these parts where we could conduct job interviews?

Or perhaps we can find a bulletin board to put up a HELP!!! notice.  That worked for me once or twice in Santa Fe.  Maybe instead of offering work we should offer the opportunity to perform an act of compassion - for money. 

Meanwhile we continue to stumble around, not quite organized enough to consider ourselves functional.

Oh, well.  At least we are here.  Yay!


June 15, 2012                                       Madison, IN

I wish people wouldn't say to their friends, "If something happens to me, he did it."

If you feel that strongly that someone poses a threat, do something about it (my recommendation being to run away.)

When I was living in New Mexico, a woman agreed to meet with her ex-husband.  When she didn't return, there was a note on her dresser about where she was going.  She either said to someone or wrote in the note, "I hope everything will be all right."

Well, everything wasn't all right.  Her body was found later and no charges were brought against the ex-husband.  Fingerpointing and concern-voicing just don't count as compelling evidence.

Who cares, anyway, whether anyone is brought to justice, if they themselves are dead?  Not the victim.

I fail to understand why anyone is so attached to his life in a particular community or place that he cannot leave it, literally "to save his life."

The most compelling reason to stay might be children.  But if you are a dead innocent, that is the one of the worst things you can do for your children.

I have thought of an extra noble reason to leave if you feel seriously threatened.  How about doing it for the sake of the person threatening you?  Protect her from herself!  Those who commit acts of violence in passion ruin not only the life of the victim, but often their own as well.

Fear is like pain;  you might not like the symptoms, but your body is trying to tell you something.  Ignoring the message might prove fatal.

June 14, 2012                                       Madison, IN

This morning I did two big loads of laundry, washed dishes and vacuumed.

I also lost four straight games of Mahjongg Dark Dimensions.

That's all it takes to convince me that doing housework makes you dumb.

Whatever you do, don't do too much of that!

Ha, ha, ha ha ha ha....

My partner's response:  From now on, games first and housework later!

June 13, 2012                                        Madison, IN

Today we finally found a way to walk up to the part of Madison on the hilltop.

I had asked around a little, thinking there must be a good place to walk up, and had been told no.

Well, okay, I obviously didn't ask the right people - but just for fun I will give you a history of my up and down and down and out experiences!

First I was here alone with my mom, staying at the Holiday Inn Express, and wanted to go to the public library.  I figured all downhill roads led to downtown and I think I walked down 421.  At least, it was a highway and wasn't terrifying, but it was hardly scenic.  It must have been 421; that was about five years ago.

Once on vacation here, my partner and I went up the Heritage Trail, thinking to go to that Hillside Inn on the other side of town along high ground.  I have written about that already - and the terrifying descent along Highway 7 which wrote it off permanently as a way to walk "up there."

Today we went up Michigan:  not as bad as Highway 7, but still a no-no.  Not how I want to die, anyhow.

This time we came back a different way, along Hatcher Hill Road, which is now closed to traffic.  Perfect!  This was a walk along a limestone cliff ornamented here and there with trumpet vine.  The wildflowers were lovely and !!! my partner found a horn coral fossil (looks the same as what we used to call a cup coral) - as long as my hand is wide - right in the road.

It occurred to me right before I wrote this we should have looked around for more fossils in the immediate area!  But looking for fossils around here is like looking for clouds in the sky around here - you hardly need to.  They abound.

Didn't see much wildlife around; maybe it was too late in the morning by the time we got there.

Want to walk up to the businesses on the hill?  Go up East Street until you get to Aulerbach, turn left and cross 421.  Then head uphill on Walnut, through the cemetery and up onto the old road.  A pretty pretty walk.

Count on a few miles.  You just might feel it in your upper front thighs when you are done.  Hopefully, I won't feel it even worse come tomorrow.

The old road is altogether a more primitive unpeopled route than the Heritage Trail.  And it really gets you right into upper Madison!

June 12, 2012                                         Madison, IN

I wish people in the public media would keep "acts of God" and "thank God" out of their verbiage.

To those of us who believe in our Teddy Bears, this kind of language is highly offensive.

How would they like it if we peppered all our speeches with reference to our Teddy Bears?

"Thank Teddy Bear, the weather will be great for our picnic.  If not, pray Teddy Bear will give us a good day Wednesday - our rain date."

I'm one of those who superstitiously (or out of respect for my more religious acquaintances) used to say "God willing" when I was making plans.  Er, when I remembered.

But now I think it is silly.  Whatever can-happen-outside-of-"my poor powers" will be, and it certainly doesn't need my permission to be.

For those of us who have joined the 16% or so of the non-religious, it makes me feel a little threatened to hear people give responsibility to God for saving them.  Does that mean He gets the blame if they don't get saved?  Or do they?  Is it their fault?  Or is it mine, the minority of those who didn't believe well enough?

Admittedly I'm feeling a little extra vulnerable right now because I am reading Scapegoat: A History of Blaming Other People by Charlie Campbell.

But we should all be sensitive to these issues.  In another decade the power of population might be with another group of believers inimical to yours.  Then would you want to be reminded of their beliefs every time they took a breath?

I think not.  And if they started using this kind of language to curry favor with the majority and to influence the population as a whole to their way of thinking -

Well, Teddy Bear forbid!  And Teddy Bear bless you, too!

June 11, 2012                                         Madison, IN

Reading A Pair of Blue Eyes, a work of Thomas Hardy I had never heard of before, I was struck by how often I get a truer feel for the actual way people lived and the societal forces acting upon them at a certain point in history from authors' secondary (or teriary?) creations than I get from what are considered their more important works.

Maybe universalizing your experience makes for a longer-lasting literary (I first typed literart!) achievement, but if you want a real sense of the cultural feel and sensibility of a certain time, the best way might be to read "lesser" works, or lesser authors!

It's really too bad so much work of worthy authors drops out of sight entirely.  There is still an enormous amount of wisdom and insight to be found in them.  I've read that the average "shelf life" of a novel is twenty years.  Why is that?

June 10, 2012                                          Madison, IN

We have had such a warm spring that when I feel a chill in the air I think autumn is upon us.

I have never had that weird sensation before, feeling the beginning of Fall in the beginning of June!

This evening I looked out over the park and saw fireflies for the first time this year.  Maybe they have been out for days (nights?) already, but it stays light until after nine, so who knew?

(Maybe the little toddler I see bee-lining through the dark dusk to her parents.  Has she caught a lightning bug?)

Little did I know when I was a child, hanging around outside in the park as long as possible at night, that decades later I would be slouching towards bed fighting sleepiness instead of fighting sleep.

I blame the heat for part of my wilt, but I don't remember heat bothering me any more than cold, in those single-digit years when winter was my favorite season! 

June 9, 2012                                            Madison, IN

My partner had a good thought this morning.

He said, "If you cut too many corners, you end up going around in circles."

Now that's one for a book of aphorisms!

June 7, 2012                                            Madison, IN

Tonight we got lucky.  My sister and her husband were visiting, so we ate at the Broadway Hotel and then walked over to the Lanier mansion.

My partner pointed out a bird.  I instantly said, "Brown thrasher" even though I have only gotten the swiftest glimpse of a red-brown tail in my whole life.

There were two of them, walking around foraging in the garden on the river side of the house.  My sister has a bird app on her phone, so she played the brown thrasher song.  (A few of them, anyway.  Birdsong by Don Stap reports that brown thrashers have been known to sing a couple of thousand - the all-time high in the bird world.  (Hell, I'm not sure I know a thousand songs!))

One of the thrashers seemed to take notice, the other ignored the small-volumed recorded song.  This sighting took place in the evening around seven-thirty or so.

We also saw a Baltimore oriole.

Even without the birds it would have been a lovely setting.  Huge sycamore tree, boxwood hedged flower gardens, the river and perfect temperature.

Lucky, lucky us.

June 6, 2012                                            Madison, IN

Last night I went on a walk around Madison, trying for 32 blocks or hopefully about two miles.

This place has so much of visual interest!  The semispherical rock globs atop a stone wall are fossils - corals, I think.

There are houses of all kinds with ornamentation galore.  They range here from diminutive to mansions.

I saw a shapely mimosa tree in full bloom - I don't think they grow farther north in Valparaiso.

The walk back toward the river on the street that goes past the old mill also goes past the winery.  I am not sure I have ever seen more fabulous true lilies blooming in one spot.  They glowed in the evening light.

This morning we walked up the railroad on the west side of town, leaving the tracks for some old stone stairs up the side of the hill - an alternate route to the head of the heritage trail.  On the way down the trail we saw a deer, who seemed frozen in our eyebeams; or maybe she was patiently waiting for us to get lost so she could graze.  In the background was a thrush singing.  The deer flicked her ears.

I am beginning to try to pick up some of the threads of the family history that first drew me to Madison.  Today we walked by the Methodist Church that my great grandmother and some of her kids lived next door to for a few weeks after their barge (the Ugly Duckling) escaped down the river.

We wandered some of the alleyways (that in those days might have counted as streets) that my great-aunts and uncles scampered around as kids.

Their home was on the same block as now holds the public library!

June 5, 2012                                             Madison, IN

As a P.S. to yesterday's rant:  the term "dead peasant" with relation to insurance policies was reportedly not invented by angry response to the fact of the insuring of the lives of low-income employees.

It is a name given to such deceased employees in memos composed by the insurance company employees themselves.  I got this from the same website -

How remarkably cynical.

The pinnacle of cynical.

Well, I won't go into word-play now.  This is one of those deadly serious subjects.  Er, no pun intended.

Evidently this memo usage of the term "dead peasants" came out in a lawsuit that made it to the Supreme Court.  See the website.

Find out if you need to sell some stock or cut up a credit card!

June 4, 2012                                              Madison, IN

I was recently reminded of something I had heard before, but had forgotten, presumably in my mom's time-honored tradition of forgetting the unpleasant:  that Wal-Mart has been known for insuring itself for a monetary return upon the death of an employee.

This outraged me.  How could I forget?  And more universally, how can they get away with it?

I was telling my partner that this was another reason to boycott Wal-Mart (the reasons not to being obvious) when he interrupted me.

"You can go on-line and find seventy companies that do it."

"Then we should boycott all of them."

"It's not practical."

"Well, okay, says you," I think and try to go online to find a list of such dasterdly employers.  Using my usual search engine I don't find anything.  I don't have the right buzzwords, probably, so I go back to my partner.  "Can you find a list for me?"

(I'm an old-fashioned researcher and doing an on-line search often feels to me like I'm stumbling around in the dark.)

Before I could turn around twice and say, "Use google instead of bing" three times he had a list.

He found it on in no time.

But stop:  don't click on the link yet!

How many companies would you guess hold such insurance?

Well, the list numbers about 216 with the caveat that there is no telling, really, how many companies do it.  There are evidently no laws requiring disclosure of such third-party coverage by companies - even to the insured employee!

Some of my favorite-companies-to-hate on the list are Sallie Mae (hiss, boo!) Bank of America (but Wells Fargo is on the list, too - might have to rethink my business with that one) and well, lots of businesses I don't hate but probably ought to.

So, if you ever feel as if your employers don't care whether you live or die, they might just care more than you think.

Just not the way you wish.

This kind of policy should be illegal as should any policy that does not require the knowledge of the person insured. 

June 3, 2012                                               Madison, IN

For the last year or two we have been trying to eat red meats very rarely, chicken maybe once or twice a week, and fish once or twice a week.  The other nights we have eaten eggs, maybe, or a tofu dish.  Eggplant with lentils or other beans with pasta would appear on the table with regularity.  Of course cheese is a temptation not to be forever denied to ourselves.

I have tried to avoid eating much wheat for the last two decades at least, and in an ad I saw today a doctor says when he has told people to eliminate wheat from their diets, they have lost an average of 24 pounds.

Today in a mushroom book I am reading the author reports that she substituted (a very large variety of) mushrooms for meat in her diet for most of three weeks and lost two pounds per week.  She says that in studies people could get fewer calories and still not be hungrier than normal later on that evening.

When I suggest that people give up or at least cut back on wheat, though, they act as if I had asked them to give up their religion.

Does that staff of life - bread - have an inextricable link in our minds with the shepherd's staff which represents the Savior?

When I first went to live in New Mexico, home of health freaks, I probably couldn't have dreamed about how much my diet (and religious views) would change over the course of my adult life.

But many of our habits that we think are as necessary as breathing are just habits.  And when we learn they are bad habits, then we can break them.

I used to bite my nails until I learned it was a bad habit.  Maybe eating habits and dependency-on-religion thoughts are harder to break, but they aren't supposed to be addictions, are they?

Well, are they?


June 2, 2012                                                Madison, IN

Sometimes when the wind blows from the west it ripples the water in the river so you would think it was flowing in the opposite direction.

That rainstorm the other night was the heaviest I have driven in ever.

We sit on our balconey and look across the river at another state.

Does that give us objectivity?  Can we imagine being in a state of confusion and looking over at a state of serenity just as easily attained (well here in Madison, anyway, where there is a bridge across the river.)

A co-worker of my partner asked him, "Why did you choose to come here?"  (Of all places, she implies.)

Basically, we like this town of Madison.  We know, though, that there is a whole range of living choices.  My partner's coworker has lived here all her life.  Maybe that is a good reason, right there, not to live here.

I've lived where water is scarcely seen; even clouds are relatively rare in places like Albuquerque.

I've lived near a smaller river where a thunderstorm is rarely heard.  Rain often comes in the form of mist.

Ice storms may not happen much here, but tornadoes have been known to visit.

Mountains make an impressive backdrop for a life - but these green hills are a new setting for me.

My partner said to his coworker, "It's easy to move."

Well, yes.  Especially when most of the boxes, anyway, are unpacked!   

June 1, 2012                                                 Madison, IN

I was going to end the month of May with a bang, writing about my full day of driving smaller highways to Nashville and back, but a big bang (or rather the source of it - lightning) took away our Internet service for the evening so I had to wait until today.

On my trip down I made four stops and it took much longer than I expected - seven hours! - to get there.  Luckily the time change gave me an hour's grace, and although I was late for Mom's lunch (I arrived during dessert) at least I was able to have my one real meal of the day.

This is the way to go!  There is so much to look at.  You don't spend all your energy trying to survive the rat race experience of the Interstate system.  (I swear people go too fast and get too competitive on the Interstates because they are BORED.)

My route, pretty much chosen for as geographically direct a route to Nashville as possible, involved going through a town called Finchville where I saw, first thing, what looked like a kingfisher streaking across the highway in front of me.  Oh, well, maybe a bluebird.  I just got a kingfisher hit in the instant of observation I had.

At any rate, it wasn't a finch!

Just as I was thinking you don't see much corn growing down here south of the Ohio River, significant corn fields appeared.

When I went down 31E (Lincoln heritage highway) I saw sites of historical interest (re Lincoln's birthplace and boyhood home) for future leisurely exploration, and a state park I would love to camp in, if they have a campground.  No time to look around yet, rush rush.

The striated rock formations and flowering trees were jawdropping beautiful.  In addition to the great magnolias, raintrees, and catalpas there were stunning specimens of big flowering woody plants that even at 55 mph whizzed by too quickly to identify.

It was eerie, driving down an almost untraveled road of scenic grandeur (not a vehicle in sight before or behind) knowing that a few miles to the west was an artery (I65) packed with corpuscular cars thrashing their way unseeing through similar mountain wonders.  (Ha, ha!  Too much?  You should have seen that sentence before I edited it!  Er, maybe you did.)

Whether it seems as dramatic to you as it did to me, the experience reminded me of living in peaceful Santa Fe while one of (if not the) worst prison riot in American history was enacting its horrors nine miles away.

Why would anyone choose it?

Oh right, the element of time.  Well, for the record, my trip back took only five-and-one-half hours in spite of some white-knuckle crawling through driving rain that rendered the highway almost invisible.  (An internet-recommended route gave a 4.5 hour estimated time.)

It was raining so hard that when I opened the window to try to see -

Um.  Enough already.  That's a story for another day!

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