By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Wed, August 01 2012 - 5:44 pm
August 31, 2012 Madison, IN
My jaw almost scraped the floor when Chris Matthews said during the MSNBC coverage of the Republican National Convention las night that people don't pick their religion - they just inherit it from their parents.
"We don't shop around for religion."
Well, yes, Chris, many of us do. Reading Jack London gave me major doubts about the Christianity (ranging from fundamentalist Christian to liberal Lutheran) that I was brought up in my wee years to believe. I was kind of wishy-washy about it. I was basically Christian with occasional waves of agnosticism for years.
My husband, who was raised a Lutheran, spent an awful lot of time meditating for that particular background, and then took to being a Quaker just fine.
I'm now either an agnostic or completely disinterested, whichever way you want to look at it. I don't concern myself with it, except to scorn people who blindly believe what their parents taught them.
Not taking responsibility for your religion is like not taking responsibility for where you live. Just because you were born there doesn't mean you have to die there.
August 30, 2012 Madison, IN
Ann Romney makes me giggle. She says about her husband, "You can trust this man!"
Ha, ha, ha, ha! Maybe she can trust Mitt Romney, but why should I take her word for whether I can?
In fact, I am not sure what her words are supposed to mean to me. I can trust him, all right. I can trust him to do politically what I don't want him to! That is, if he is the contemporary Republican he claims to be.
Years ago I consulted the I Ching about a problem (no more superstitious than consulting the Bible, I would say) and it gave me the opinion that I was like a housewife standing in her doorway viewing the world - not exactly the scope of vision you will need if you want to understand what is going on in the larger society!
Ann Romney reminded me of that admonition. Ann, he supposedly loves you. He doesn't love me. Don't judge his potential treatment of the rest of us by how he treats his wife and family.
So, you get up there and blah blah blah and I stay at home and ha, ha, ha!
Time will tell.
August 28, 2012 Madison, IN
Foogle google mon-penny. Schmeerer findle overlay schmoogle.
Par excellence and far Provence and more provenance suffices!
To be but not Toby or Elias or Porter either. Hot spices! Cool slices.
Fool's school is august and September is seventh ember. No Spring folly but aghast darkness. Not happening! Not happening!
Stress reliever: Do this on your keyboard: lakjr ho rtnwl o lksdfjfpwojg jitterjitterjitter lza j ghgpmg2p. !!!
Isn't that great? Just like a big cleansing breath - or a jumble of fortissimo nonsense notes on your oboe.
August 27, 2012 Madison, IN
What with one thing and another, I've had almost a week off from writing. Durn. I wanted to write from Nashville, where I went to visit my mom in assisted living.
For those of you who are living with or caring for your parents: if they don't seem happy, they probably aren't.
If you aren't happy either, maybe it's time to make a change.
Since my mother moved to Nashville and into her assisted living, she has described it as "kind of like living in Heaven."
My partner is much happier, I am happier, and my mother is happier, even though she was not happy when she was uprooted from her home and city and transplanted to Nashville.
We have gone from three less happy to three more happy. This is called a win win win situation! I hope my sister in Nashville is no less happy, but maybe that is expecting too much.
If filial guilt is keeping you from doing what is best for yourself, don't persist in this behavior. You might feel that you are being a virtuous person, but maybe you're just martyring yourself unnecessarily.
Let's face it: sometimes father doesn't know best!
August 21, 2012 Madison, IN
Why do people say the rich are trying to screw us?
They aren't trying to get us to unbuckle our belts - they are trying to get us to tighten them!
August 20, 2012 Pittsburgh, PA
Went downtown today and enjoyed the big-city drive-through, but we didn't linger. We went up to the University of Pittsburgh (my partner's alma mater) and looked around.
He hardly recognized the place. When he was there in the late seventies, the buildings were still mostly black! After cleaning up the air, the city cleaned up its buildings. Now their architectural detail is much more visible and conveys a much more upbeat mood.
He was looking forward to showing me the international classrooms of the Cathedral of Learning, but unfortunately they were locked - perhaps because it is between terms. We did get to see the Syrian-Lebanese room (through glass) which had been a library in Damascus. Its highly ornamented linden wood walls seemed as if they would have been a permanent distraction from studying, they were so beautiful. We were disappointed that the other rooms were locked. My partner actually took classes in some of them. No wonder he has such cosmopolitan flair!
Less time in the classroom translated to more time in the garden, however - the garden being Phipps Conservatory. I can honestly say I have never had a bad time in a botanical garden, and this one boasted not only wonderful plants from orchids to cacti and bonsai, but also butterflies and Chihuly glass sculptures.
Crossing a bridge on the way home, I looked to the right and saw five more bridges. This metropolis is the ultimate river city!
August 19, 2012 Pittsburgh, PA
In Pittsburgh for my partner's mom's ninetieth.
Yesterday we came most of the trip by Interstate. We came through some pretty country (mostly rolling green hills and rock outcroppings, but what a dearth of detail along the way!
Made me realize how much the sites (ha, ha also sights) and sounds of a journey can distract us from concentrating on the finer things of life - like petty grudges against that black SUV (for which there are multimany opportunities on an Interstate as opposed to a smaller road), family problems, and the voices in our heads.
I think back to one of the worst road quarrels my ex-husband and I ever had, which climaxed with both the Road Atlas and my broad-brimmed had being tossed out the car by the side of the Interstate highway.
Well, speed was of the essence yesterday. I hope the trip home will be a slower, more meandering one. Then we actually might see something worth reporting.
(Well, actually we did. Cincinnati, OH approached from the South on Interstate 71 is a framed picture of great charm, and the bridges here in PA are varied and colorful.)
During this third time ever in Pittsburgh (for me) we plan to finally get downtown and see a few landmarks and educational institutions. I'll report on those. It's already wonderful to see how clean the air is here, compared to its past reputation!
August 15, 2012 Madison, IN
Romney's telling the citizens of the U.S. to trust him about what he says about his income tax returns actually reminds me of the attitude of the Mormon elders of old and, unfortunately, according to some reports (as described in the books I have mentioned in my For Book Butterflies comments) some elders of the present day.
Having read a few books about and by Mormons (or at least ex-Mormons) I have been trying really hard to ignore and discount Romney's religion. After all, just because Joseph Smith and Brigham Young used their followers as big voting blocs (thus negating the word "democratic" as descriptive of the citizens who lived in their thrall) doesn't mean that today's mainstream Mormon leaders are guilty of the same practices.
Don't get paternalistic with us, Mr. Romney. We cannot accept your invitation to trust you, because that would be irresponsible of us. Our job as citizens of an at least so-called democracy requires us to behave like aware adults - not obedient trusting children.
We may fail in that responsibility, but we are damn well not going to concede our powers to you before an election, or after it for that matter. Who do you think you are?
August 14, 2012 Madison, IN
Lickety banana split peel out side-winder snake hissy fit bamboo.
Watcha mean, gotcha?
Rose in bloomers spreading rumors plasma schooners humors ether, ores, matadors!
Bubby bunny baby blankies clambor jammies triple treble vocal jammers.
Wah wha? Boo who?
Gummy mummy laughing holding hummy tubby tummy scrubbing yummy gicky goo.
Wah wah boo hoo.
August 13, 2012 Madison, IN
One time I met a young woman who asked me, "Do you believe in germs?"
I said yes. She said, "I don't!" The next thing I remember is her walking away, not waiting for an answer.
Well, it may not have really been that way. That is just the way I remembered it. But it doesn't matter, because there is no answer to someone's belief.
We spent the weekend, though, listening to people screaming, haranguing, and emoting over their belief in God, whether through the shouted word or through music.
Could there conceivably be people who really don't believe in germs? The phenomenon of hoarding that rises to the level of filth would indicate that this is the case.
Can the same people who believe in an invisible God fail to believe in visible (through microscopes) and scientifically verifiable bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and fungi?
I can't believe it - but of course, my disbelief doesn't make it not so.
(Ha! A triple negative! Is there a better way to write that? I'm willing to believe it.)
August 12, 2012 Madison, IN
We started our walk this morning along a foggy river. We could see the near edge, but not much farther. My partner commented, "Look - you can barely see that boat."
I said, "I don't think it is a boat. I think it is just a thinner area of fog - like that over there."
I pointed straight across the river at dark masses I thought were the far hills through the mist. They immediately coalesced into a dark barge! It was silently gliding through the fog, as if it were a slow silent zeppelin suspended in the clouds.
As we walked, the air cleared up. I spotted a couple of hummingbirds, a goldfinch and a turkey or two. The mockingbirds have quieted down a lot. We miss their banter.
Funny how now I never bother to mention the geese and ducks and black vultures that are part of our daily viewing! They are always here, if their noteworthiness is not always appreciated.
August 11, 2012 Madison, IN
For two days now we have been harangued and "serenaded" by the revival meeting at the park on the next block.
Interesting that some performers convince people to pay to hear them lecture or perform music; others do it for nothing - for fun or a pittance to keep the ensemble going; and then there are those who have to bribe audiences with freebies to get them to come. These last get bunches of generous believers to donate goods in the name of God to other people who have to listen to them speak or perform in return for the goodies.
Unfair, unfair? Well, maybe so, but those of us who have to put up with the waiving of ordinances which would allow us to hear each other talk in our living rooms better than the amplified preacher outside might be forgiven a little cynicism.
I should talk. How do I fit into the scheme of things? People don't pay to read my website. Neither do I pay them. I fall in the category of those who produce for fun or nothing or the love of it.
Well, at least I'm not bribing or guilt-tripping my readers to allow me to shove my version of the word of God down their throats!
August 10, 2012 Madison, IN
Papa John's pizza never has impressed me. When I ordered it once in Santa Fe, New Mexico, after it first came out decades ago, I didn't like it any better than its competition, at that time Domino's and Little Caesar's.
None of them could begin to compete in my mind, heart, and taste buds with Upper Crust Pizza, which provided more options, freshness and flavor than the others. Its name, of course, warned you it was also much more pricey, but it was worth it. It always delivered quality. (And probably still does!)
Now Papa John's is evidently trying to drum up business ala Chick-fil-A by getting political. Evidently there is no such thing as bad publicity.
Papa John's claim that he will be forced to raise his pizza prices (all of 11 - 14 cents per pizza!) because of health care reform and his company's practice of hiring many part-time workers that will get no health coverage from him at all deserves the laugh it got from CNN.
Papa John is beginning to sound a lot more like Wicked Step-papa John.
August 8, 2012 Madison, IN
Ha, ha! The day after my rash rant I read an article on the MSN site about unusual rash causing agents.
Did I speculate I might have six allergies?
My rash seemed to be the worst on hot humid days, so how about this response to the good life?
I could conceivably be allergic to standing in the sun drinking a bottle of water, talking on my cell phone, and eating food. Any food.
And I thought only yachts and clam chowder and cakes were too rich for me!
Just contemplating stressing about rash possibilities -
I'm breaking out in hives already.
August 7, 2012 Madison, IN
Rashes have a bad rep - and for good reason!
We associate rashes with discomfort, pain, disfigurement, and disease.
Rash behavior is not well-regarded.
Have you ever heard anyone say, "Dash for the rash!"
Or, "I'm going for the rash. It's a real bash!"
Or, "She drew her lashes down over her rashes."
No. You have not.
And it is not as if it were impossible to have more than one rash at a time.
You could have a chicken pox rash, heat rash, and consequently a stress rash all at the same time.
My rash, which I had chalked up to Zyrtec, has reappeared. My latest suspect is stevia, a "natural" sweetener. I hate the stuff anyway, but bought a tub of yoghurt containing it by accident.
The return of the rash! Aaayyy!
So I won't finish that tub of yoghurt. Maybe my partner will.
Meanwhile, now I think I've found the culprit... or was it those bananas that I also stopped eating for a while? ... or blackberries? Heat rash? Stress? Insect bites?
Or all six?
August 6, 2012 Madison, IN
Just realized I have been putting the wrong town on my month's writings. Talk about secrets! I have secrets from myself.
I admit I have been feeling a little nostalgic lately. I'm getting really tired of my summer clothes (of which I have plenty) and beginning to hanker after blue jeans and sweaters.
This is ungrateful of me. An abundance of hot days is a small price to pay for fewer bitterly cold ones.
It just seems so - artificial!
In fact, it's not. What is artificial is the air-conditioning that makes me able to function at all these days. Remember the days before air conditioning when you spent almost every waking hour feeling as if you were smothered in soggy cotton balls, unable to lift your heat-logged limbs?
Of course you don't - you are either too young to have experienced it, too old to remember, or from the dry Southwest.
Valparaiso isn't the only place to feel nostalgia for!
I'm one of those ever-more-common individuals with a divided sense of home.
August 5, 2012 Madison, IN
Intrigue and secret handshakes!
When we are children these things have mystique and glamor.
We imagine ourselves as part of a special group - whether a persecuted one or a socially special organization (or, making a virtue of "necessity," both).
As adults, we should eschew both kinds. I'd like to think we are too grown-up to need or desire that kind of social affirmation or exclusivity.
Alas, that is not the case. Some adults glory in them in the same kind of playful (but not very thoughtful) spirit as children.
And even more alas, some people need them to carry out unspeakable and illegal actions which they can't afford to perform in the open.
ALAS! in capital letters, some unfortunates need them to survive through no fault of their own except accidents of birth or belief systems that the U.S. in its constitution has proclaimed humans have the right to hold.
What is really creepy is that some people fit into all three categories. The immature hypocritical supercreep.
Eeeek! Who needs ghost stories to scare them into sleepless nights?
I should have saved this topic for Halloween!
August 3, 2012 Madison, IN
I've been feeling like writing something more light-hearted lately, but I'm just not inspired to.
Where is the playful mood of Spring?
I think it went where Spring went.
Call it seasonal affective disorder; call it the summer doldrums; call it whatever you like, but it does exist - this ebb and flow of creative mood.
The days are getting shorter. Now is the time to brood.
August 2, 2012 Madison, IN
Not only are we finding sadistic stuff entertaining (see below) but my partner has been noting for months now (in our daily movie viewing) the physical displays of temper.
Actors in the past may have had to portray internal anguish, but more and more all they have to do is sweep a bunch of stuff off a desk or destroy a bunch of physical stuff.
Well, why should the hours of hard work and the results of creative passion of dozens of other people be destroyed because I am suffering?
Functioning in graduate school is very stressful - I did not manage to navigate a higher degree successfully, although my dropping out was due to my own feeling that biology and chemistry were oozing out of my ears. Another of my fellow students suffered from depression. A third, I recall, was suffering so badly from headaches that he routinely took three times the prescribed dosage of aspirin several times a day.
Reminds me of James Holmes, killer of a dozen.
You may respond, "Well that is different."
Well, no, it isn't. Wanton destruction of anything is on that same continuum of blaming the rest of the world for your problems. It shows a deep lack of respect for others and their achievements and right to be appreciated.
On the other hand, maybe the ways universities treat their graduate students needs to be examined. Some awful things happen with no accountability to the student at all, and the quicksand that some graduate students experience with respect to their future must be terrifying.
August 1, 2012 Madison, IN
Last night we saw an ad that was seemingly one long stream of insults against a succession of people. "Whaa...?" I thought. "Is this what people are supposed to enjoy seeing these days?" I don't remember what the product was.
Immediately after I saw another such stream of incidents. "What?!" I asked my partner, "Is this another ad?"
"No, it's a movie preview."
"You mean, I am supposed to want to watch not thirty seconds of this stuff - but two hours of it?"
What is going on here? Since when is it supposed to be fun to see someone covered in muck, punched, insulted, beaten ad nauseum? (Or orgasm, depending on who is watching, I guess.)
Yeah, yeah, I've heard of slapstick comedy. I never have liked it and my partner says he outgrew the Three Stooges when he was a kid.
So who wants this, the kids? If these folks are selling to the kids, why? Do they have more money than I do? How old are these kids, anyway?
Really. TV ads and movies make me wonder if we are trying hard to raise a generation of sociopaths.
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