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Rumilluminations IV
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Fri, June 15 2007 - 5:29 pm

July 29, 2007

...and blah blah blah

Oh, yeah!  I always thought I would be a late bloomer.  (Although when it came to writing I imagined fortyish rather than sixtyish!)

Of course some of the poetry and stories date from some time back!

And I rather thought my blossom would be a little showier!

Other times, to the extent that there is any gift at all, it is given to me by the spirits of others.  Let them take the blame also!

Ha!  I know, in spite of my youthful rebellion against that idea (that we take must take blame but can get no credit), that it is most likely true.

A fact of nature.

What do you think?  (Lutherans (at least those who agree with that particular point) need not respond!  I already know.  I had it in catechism!)

July 28, 2007

Well, yesterday I wrote "fear is an obsession with form."  Since that idea may have become buried in the rest of yesterday's text I'm going to elaborate on it a little.

Why are we afraid of changing ourselves?  I think it is fear that changing our form or personality is going to annihilate us.  We're soo attached to our present form.  But when we change form, it is often for the better.  (Unless you want to have someone changing your diaper for the rest of your life!  Not to mention leaving you strapped in a hot car with no strength to get out!  You get my point.)

Our most elemental fear is probably death - once we are old enough to realize it is coming, that is.  What is death?  It is the loss of life as we know it, maybe complete loss of life or consciousness, but for sure we lose our human bodies.  That's form!

Why are so many people so sure that they know that when we die there is nothing?  There are so many examples of inner/outer dichotomy in the world - geodes, nuts, acting, dealing with co-workers - why not in human life, also?  Doesn't all that inner energy count for anything in the "real" world?

All the other stuff is just form.  If what our bodies do is all that we are, how can we act in contradiction to our feelings?  If what we feel is only part of our bodies, why do we have opinions about how we feel about what we do?  Ad infinitum.

But not.  A computer person would say, it's just layers and layers of stuff.  Like a computer.  Like a robot. 

Why are we so afraid of the machines taking over?  (Or is it just me?)  We are obsessed with the human form.

What do we care what happens after we die?  Well, we care what happens to our descendants.  But why?  If it is all just a mindless, meaningless, game, who cares if it is played by humans or machines?

Well, me.  I care only for the sake of the machines, of course.  After all, some of the plus sides of life in human form are the fun parts.  Well, the aesthetic part, and I don't think computers are all that beautiful.  But that's being selfish.  For them?  I'm just not sure that they are programmed enough for fun.

(Heh, heh.  Maybe if they overthrow us, they'll have fun by playing with each other.  Like us.  Except... I don't think virtual games are as much fun as bike-riding and eating and sex....

It seems like many people don't agree though....!) 

July 27, 2007

Does 'formal' mean form is all?  (Don't tell me to look it up in the dictionary, or to find out its derivation.  These things interest me, but right now I'm wondering what it means.)

If a driver is so used to coming to a corner, stopping, and looking both ways and not seeing anything coming, that one morning he doesn't see that bicyclist, he is lost in form.

Don't give me form.  Don't set your browser so I think I'm getting hits, and then read what I write never, or with your mind distracted by something else.  It's sweet of you to want to make me happy, but don't bother.

Sure, I like getting hits.  I like to feel I'm being read.  But that's because I think I'm making a connection (or, in the case of the occasional stumble-over-me mistake, the hope of a connection!)  Don't fake it to humor me.

Will I still write if I get no readers?  I don't know.  Maybe I will stop writing here!  But probably not.  If you don't buy a lottery ticket you don't have any hope of winning.  Don't ask me what I am looking to win by writing.  Just connection.

I just enjoy doing it!  With, hopefully, no captive audience!

Fear, I think, is kind of an obsession with form.

Love obliterates form, but from the inside!

Knock, knock, I'm here!

Make me a joke!


July 26, 2007

When I was in high school, I read Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.  I was temporarily sold.  I remember admiring the ethics, creativity and positivism of Rands 'good' characters.  It was only on further pondering that I realized that her scale of virtue was basically one-dimentional, and based on success.

Of a sense of humor, I saw nothing.  (I haven't got back to her since, so maybe it was just that I didn't 'get' her humor.  But I don't think so.  I never hear anyone saying about Ayn Rand, "Now there's a funny writer!")

Now I'm noticing that many people's concept of spirituality is the same way.  You have to follow one Savior, or you're going to miss the eternity boat!  (No, I'm not noticing that for the first time!  I'm noticing the linearity of it for the first time!)

I'm having a little trouble with being articulate today, evidently.

But Jesus, who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the light, and whosever ..." etc. to the effect that you had to get to heaven through him, reminds me a little of the mystic in Franklin Lewis' book who gets into deep Islamic trouble by crying out in a mystical ecstasy, "I am God!"  (Of course, they were both right - just not exclusively so!)

A Japanese martial artist and spiritual teacher, Morihei Ueshiba, said, "There are many paths to the top of Mount Fuji, but there is only one summit - love."

For Rumi, love is the experience of God.

For Christians, "God is Love."

So why are we all fighting all the time?  Makes me feel like a little kid in the school playground!  (Come to think of it, I don't remember all that much fighting there!)

I think it might be fun to imagine the spiritual path as a big double helix studded with all kinds of active sites, woven into a cosmic cloth which is then shaped into a big beach ball bobbing up onto a beach, just waiting to be played with!

July 25, 2007

This is a P.S. to yesterday's entry.  Upon further thought, it occurs to me I should have blamed Ben Jonson for my loss of innocence with regards to translation!

Amazingly enough, I still have the book in which the madrigal "Come My Celia..." appears.  The poem is given in its entirety at the end of the song, with the name Ben Jonson at the bottom.

I looked in the Intro to the Words, written by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman, for any allusion to Catullus.  There was none, although they did refer to an attempt by some English poets to write poetry in the classical vein.

So, my stumbling across Catullus' poem (written originally to "Lesbia") really was quite a rude loss of innocence!  I guess I was too distracted (or naive maybe) to pay much attention.

Apologies to Franklin Lewis, although I'm sure he would realize I was mostly joking.  I really do know better than to shoot the messenger!

July 24, 2007

I was writing about this Frank Lewis book about Rumi I've been reading, (lots over the last few weeks!) about the significance and meaning to the average reader of the word "translation."  I said, surely one would assume the translator could read the original text!

Later I was reminded of an entry exam I took at Shimer College years ago.  This particular test was of my Latin, which I took for three years in high school.  I was young (eighteen, though!) and when I took the test I encountered an unexpected moral dilemma.

I was asked to render into English a classical poem by Catullus, a Roman poet.  When I started to read it, I realized it was a poem written in English by Ben Jonson (he of Elizabethan fame.)  It was set to music and published in a book of madrigals.  I had learned the song.

It was a wonderful song!  I can sing it still.

But while I was taking the exam, I didn't know what to do.  I hated to mention it to the proctor, because what could he/she do about it?  And being a timid soul in ways back then, I didn't want to disturb other people at their labors.

I thought of quoting the poem whole, and putting Ben Jonson's name to it, but didn't really know what they would make of that, either!

This test was not important to me.  I wanted to take Italian (ended up settling for French!) or another modern language and really had no intention of ever taking Latin again.  So I just more or less paraphrased Ben Jonson's poem and left it at that. (I may have left out parts that I couldn't identify in the original, but truth to tell, translating that poem was beyond my powers!) I didn't really worry about it much.  I wasn't really trying to get away with doing less work, or anything like that.

In my first semester at school, I answered a question correctly that the teachers of the course (Analysis, required for everyone) maybe hoped would take the whole hour of discussion.  The teacher all but accused me of having been given the answer by someone who took the class earlier in the day.

In the year or so following, I wrote a paper on comedy which I ended by saying that attempting too rigid a definition of comedy would render it comical.  (I thought that was a stroke of genius!)  I got a good grade, as I recall, but not as much appreciation as I thought it deserved.

The next semester I read in a book about aesthetics (by Croce, as I recall) exactly the same argument!

Long before I graduated, I had decided that I had made a mistake by paraphrasing Ben Jonson on the exam, but didn't bother to tell anyone about it.  Why should I?  It would have made absolutely no difference in my education, I felt.  (Without that test, I still got more credits than I needed to graduate!)

It was only years later that I realized those folks might have caught me out, and as the result of my fudging, did not believe me when I did come up with something that I had figured out on my own.

But long before that happened, it turns out, mature, professional literati were brazenly doing the same thing!

What do you know.  I'm still regretful that I didn't speak up at the time, but it didn't make me lose my innocence with regards to the art of translation.  Frank Lewis did.

July 23, 2007

Love as ecstasy is the experience of mystics, I think.  Love of God, love of God in others.  But that is a state of mind that seems, to me, incompatible with everyday life on this planet.  Maybe that is why it is considered so heavenly.  Maybe that is why people who possess this in great quantity seem (from the outside, at least) to be so valued and protected (sheltered!) by others.

But Rumi certainly had tasks and responsibilities which he seemed to perform with utmost skill and effectiveness.  It was only after he attained a status that would have people seeking him out if he missed an appointed ceremony that he experienced an all-consuming, soul-burning love.

Although I have felt strong love, I have for a long time felt that it is for the most part beyond me.  It involves a personal ecstasy that I could not imagine sustaining.  (Reading so much about someone who has done so has been rather inspiring, but I still wonder - for how long did Rumi feel that way?  Reams of poetry can be produced in a short amount of time.  Shams was personally in his life for only a two or three years, it seems.)

My aim was always rather for what I thought of as compassion.  In our society (and evidently many others) it is perceived as a higher (or at least preferable) state of being.

In fact, I had always felt that compassion was to be aimed for.  It isn't personal, so much as taking oneself out of one's merely personal concerns.  Love, but not an ecstatic love.  More of a feeling with and giving to others.  More a trying to put oneself in their shoes.  But, I thought, maybe it could be mutual.

Reading about Rumi has made me feel that love is the highest emotion (most Godlike?), yet Rumi's love for Shams (and vice versa, it seems) led to jealousy on the part of Rumi's disciples and students.

There does really seem to be a stage (end?) of spirituality that does not give a fig or even lip service to the world or its demands, expectations, "reality."

Which is better, truer, "higher" - love or compassion?  Got any feelings about that one?

Is the reason spirituality is so muddled at the upper levels (from the point of view of one here below!) that most of us think that compassion is the best?  Is that the common wisdom?  But insofar as it does acknowledge the things, beings, the very existence of this merely physical plane, does that make it automatically inferior?

Thus endeth my question for today!

A Buddhist would probably laugh and shrug his shoulders.  (But he'd also spread his hands, palms up, I bet, in a circular motion!)

Hahahaha!  It's all one!


July 22, 2007

My, I'm in a mean, wicked mood lately.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm very happy!  Maybe that is often true of mean, wicked people.

Nah.  I don't believe it.  And I'm not really being wicked.  Just poking fun at a lot of people.  So much fun!  Yay!

Bad news about my Japanese Beetle food for the poor nocturnal mammals plan.  The night after I wrote about adding earwigs to the mix, we had a humongous thunderstorm and lots of rain.  My offering that night had no takers, nor the next night.

So yesterday I tipped out the old brew, rinsed out the bucket, and put out a new offering, without earwigs.

The beetles were still in there this morning.

Boy, I hope I didn't cause any little critters an upset stomach!  Or any big critters blows to their egos!

Wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings!

Heh heh heh heh .... heh....

July 21, 2007

Well, after I logged off last night I realized - yes, I have heard of someone calling a woman a She-devil.  But that's not quite the same as calling the Head Honcho (the head of evil, that is) a female!

Is it because men are so completely absorbed in the maleness of power, or is it because they are secretly afraid of us females?

Heh, heh, well make up your minds, guys!  Do we women really exist or are we only figments of your imaginations?

And while you are pondering this (or not!  After all, consider the source!) we females will be off tittering in the corner.


July 20, 2007

A friend has made me aware that Dante's Satan, was, indeed moving - his mouth!  He is chewing!  Well, then, he's moving - like a cow!  Not even as much as a cow, which has been seen to flick away a fly with its tail, lower its head to get grass, blink, and amble toward the barn at milking time.

So okay, Satan was moving.  My point remains the same.  He's sluggish in the extreme.  Hmmm - I'm told, and now that I'm reminded I remember,  Satan is chewing on traitors, who evidently are the lowest of the low in Dante's eyes.  No wonder I forgot that!  Just as pointless as Hell, in my eyes.  And this loyalty thing.  Satan was the first of the rebels, so why isn't he chewing on himself?

Actually, I like that idea!  Satan is almost frozen and motionless, except he's chewing on himself!  Isn't that kind of like the state of separation from God?  If God is in everything, and you are so wrapped up in your own problems that you can't see anything or anyone else, that is kind of like chewing on yourself.  Chewing your cud.  Ruminating, actually.

Hey, I never said I was exempt!

Just that, hopefully, we can throw open a window and light up that hellish room where the big Cow Satan is chewing her cud! (Funny, you hear God called 'she' every once in a while, but this is the first time I've heard the devil called 'her' - we women must be a bunch of sexist sows! or cows!)  After all this time presumably the traitors have reached the seventh stomach of the seventh level of hell.  Ha!

(Except, isn't the cow a sacred animal in India?  Kind of like turning poor Pan into the Devil... but did Dante really identify the devil's shape?  A pity if he made him in the image of - heaven forbid - Man! or, er Woman, I mean!)

Forgive me - it's later than usual... rambling time.... 

July 19, 2007

Ten years ago or so I decided to get a real bed.  (Rather than a futon.)  I was sore and had trouble sleeping where my hip made too solid a contact with the bottom of the mattress (read 'floor').   In the spirit of optimism and the size of the master bedroom I slept in, I got a double bed.

Yesterday I turned the mattress (which has a pad attached to both sides, so I turn it upside down as well as sideways every month or two).  I also changed the sheets.  It was a bit of a struggle to turn that heavy mattress, and I wondered for not the first time about the wisdom of the purchase.

I have two beds, a single and a double which I sleep in depending on my mood plus a bunch of other factors I won't waste your time on (none of them human!)

This morning I woke up early enough that I didn't feel the need to get up right away, but late enough that I didn't feel the need to turn over and go right back to sleep.  I lay there, spread-eagled on my double bed, and for the first time (well, except for those periods of time when my optimism was justified!) was really grateful that I had bought myself a double bed.  To lie there fully extended and yet fully supported was just wonderful.

Wondering what size bed to get?  I recommend at least a double.  In fact, as I lay there I wondered how damaging our 48-inch wide had been to my husband's and my marriage.  (An unhappy marriage, and just as well it is over, but that gol-durn little futon bed did not help!  (And of course, guess whose idea all that was?)) 

Yes, I definitely recommend the double bed even for single occupancy.  And of course, a little optimism never hurts! 

July 18, 2007

For all you people, who, like me, wage war on the Japanese Beetle, I have some interesting news for you!

A few nights ago, I left my bucket of recently caught (a day or two's worth) of Japanese Beetles outside in the back yard.

The next day, the beetles were gone!  The bucket was upright and still had the water in it, but no beetles.

Yesterday I tried it again.  Voila - no beetles in the a.m.  Now I don't know what is eating those beetles - I have been told they have no predators - but I'm glad that I am "harvesting" a meal for another animal (as long as it's not a neighbor kid!) when I kill them.

Now I will be sure to only put a drop of detergent into the water I use in my bucket (although I am sure that my first bucket was a little soapier!)

Today I slapped some earwigs into the bucket along with the Japanese beetles.  We'll see if the brew is still acceptable!

In case you are curious as to who/what (probably nocturnal critter) I might be "treating" to a dish of diurnal insects, raccoons, possums, and squirrels have been seen around here.  Raccoons are known to wash their food.  What would a little detergent be to them?

The neighbors have dogs and cats.  (I hope there are no rats!)  Who do you think has been eating my yummy Japanese Beetles? 

(I wonder if some of the local wildlife has read my recent fable, "Piglet and the Fleebles"?  I'll have to ask them to write a review!  (Of the dish, and (what the hell) the story, too!))

July 17, 2007

I've fallen in love with Bill Mahr!  How could it happen to sensible me?  But he is so right on in so many ways!  I don't watch his show because it is on so late, but I guess I will have to start watching now.  Maybe familiarity will bring contempt and I'll be able to fall out of love again.

He sees the Republican tendency to run up bills (like the war in Iraq which is doing you and me no good at all, believe me!) and then blame the Democrats for having to raise taxes to pay them.  He believes in equal civil rights for everybody, including gays.  Doesn't sound unusual, right?  Well, it is, especially the way he expresses it.

Somehow he hits the issues right on and expresses them in a very succinct way that everyone can understand and relate to.  If you got to see him on Jay Leno last night, then you know what I'm talking about.  And he's funny!  (Now, now, Jay, I love you too, but you are naughty.  This guy Mahr is gutsy - way less careful than you are, love!)

Now, don't get all practical, dear readers, and start talking to me about marital status and age and status.  Don't make the mistake that my love for Bill is sexual or exclusive.  I love you too.  What I need from Bill I can get from watching him on TV.

Oh, yeah, Bill, touch my brain here, and oh, yes, my funny bone there, and poke the establishment a little right there - yes, like that!  Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes YES!

July 16, 2007

Yesterday I got busy and only put up a poem on the website.  Today I'm in the mood for more ecstasy!  (or something!)

Esther the Queen of Introspection speaks:

Narcissist Rose Flora Thorne sqeaks:

Zany Boar Piglet squeals:

That multi-faceted jewel

Hidden in the mountain -

Deep red garnet -

Oh, enter me

And find it!

(except Piglet scuffles around in the leaves, pretending she is looking for truffles, (her reddish-brown stripes redder than usual), mumbles, "Well, a round white glowy thing, really, and if you hang around long enough....")

What did you say?  There is no room in ecstasy for humor?  How about good-humored ecstasy?  How about an ecstasy of laughter?  How about it, Rumi?  (I guess I'll have to read more of his ecstatic poetry to find out!  Oh, ecstasy, another curious excursion to the library!)

How would you  define ecstasy?  How about an exremely high, winged-foot-stomping cloud-nine state of being in which you don't care a fig about defining anything?

July 14, 2007

Last night was very interesting.  I went to a restaurant to hear an acquaintance play (and sing - I didn't expect that!  And she had a lovely voice!)

I expected the restaurant to be almost empty.  It is an expensive one, after all.

Well, it wasn't empty - far from it.  It was crowded, full of festivity.  Turns out this restaurant with the French name was celebrating Bastille Day!  What fun!  I ordered a glass of wine.  I enjoyed it so much I ordered another, to help wash down my crackers and pate (pronounced pa-tay, no I did not wash down my head!) which contained white truffle mushroom oil.

Surprisingly, I got drunk.  Sure that second glass of wine was more generous than the first.  The glasses were bigger than ours at home, but I didn't think they were that big!  I walked home fast and collapsed and proceeded to experience a room-reeling drunk like I have not endured for twenty years!  I got lucky, though, because although I took a big bowl into my bedroom just in case, I didn't get sick.

The point of this tale?  I wonder about the dangers of mixing pheromone-laden mushroom oil with alcohol!  Anybody else have a similar experience, so we can detect a pattern if it is there?

Oh, and for those of you who know that I am usually careful not to drink much wine so that I can avoid heartburn, well, in all the party spirit, I took a chance.  Woke up to bad heartburn several hours later.

Well, live and whatever.  My next drunk is currently scheduled for my eightieth!  Anyone want to come to my birthday party?  I'll be serving rye crisp and water!

July 13, 2007

Whew, forget about the road less taken.  How about any other road taken?  This morning before I got out of bed, I had at least two subjects I would like to write about here.  Forget about them.  I already have!

Instead, duty called in the form of lawn-mowing.  Whenever I get up late or duty calls, forget about whatever seemed so important or profound (hey, within my shallow-puddle depths!) while I am still in bed in the a.m.

Several other interesting subjects have come up since then.

For one, ethanol fuel.

I used to think, cool!  Home fuel, fewer wars abroad.  Fewer inanimate bodies.  Good!

Then I started to think about all the people starving in the world (still many, although hard to reach because of politics and dishonesty and violence which are several stories unto themselves, beyond my scope) and thought.  Oh.  We are taking food that could be used to feed people and we are using it to feed our cars and planes.  Our greed for getting around, in other words.

I mentioned this to my younger sister and she said, "Not only that.  There is also evidence that it takes almost as much fuel to create ethanol as the energy we get from it."

I mentioned these points to my neighbor, and he said, "Not only that, but you don't get as many miles out of ethanol as regular gasoline."

So I guess the good old oil industry is taking us all on quite a joyride yet again.  There are many forms of alternative energy with which to power transportation devices, and which is permitted to get off the ground? 

Maybe the one that takes the most energy?  Whee!  Eeek!  Aaaaah!  Ooooh.... joy rides make me sick to my stomach.

July 12, 2007

Do you believe in hell?  If so, what is it?

There is there is the popular image of suffering the tortures of fire through all eternity.

Then there is Dante's view - a multilayered descent through winds, mud, probably fire I honestly don't remember, down to the very Devil himself, a frozen figure absent of animation and motion.

Rumi (see Book Butterflies Too) sees hell as a room with no windows.  (Haven't read much of his poetry - he might have a lot of other images too - tell me!)

Sartre said in his novel No Exit that hell is other people.

I had a seventh-grade teacher (Hi, Mrs. Apgar!) who kind of blew my mind by saying that we create our own hell.

Well, no doubt about that.

I know one thing:  I don't believe in an eternal hell of fire and brimstone.  It is just too damn stupid and pointless.

And Mrs. Apgar was sure right about another thing.  We sure are good at creating our own hells sometimes!

Let's fly out those windows!

July 11, 2007

When I was in college a student I barely knew invited me over to his dorm.  We went into the basement to talk (practically the only 'legal' part of a dorm in those days) where he proceeded to stew over the issue of whether he had free will or not.

I gave my pat answer, which was that, sure, God knows everything, but you still have free will.  He was not willing to accept it.  He said if predestination was true, he couldn't have free will.  I didn't have any more arguments.  If God knows everything, of course he knows how you will act.  But just like I know beforehand the kind of comments some people will make, and/or how they will react in a given circumstance, so does God, only better.

Oh, shut up, I'm not saying I'm God!  I'm saying humans are pretty predictable, me included.

Personally, I don't think it is so much a matter of free will as of the natural and human orders.

Try jumping off a bridge and see how much more free will you get.  Try staying in bed for three days straight for absolutely no reason, making no excuses to or informing anyone, and see what consequences ensue!

(Actually, I haven't tried either of those things, since I am (predictably) not so rebellious.  So I don't really know!)

Rumi stated that of course we have free will (see Book Butterflies Too) or otherwise why do we experience guilt, shame and embarrassment when we do wrong?  If we couldn't help what we do, why would we experience those feelings?  That rings true!

But basically I stand by (not my) original argument:  just because we are boringly predictable, why does that make God controlling?  (Assuming there even is that kind of hands-on interfering kind of God and I don't believe there is.  (I don't think.))

Even more depressing is a world view I read a few months ago in a mystery I read - name of author and title forgotten, I wonder why. 

It theorizes that the original big bang set stuff in motion, that down to the last pebble and sparrow falling, is determined.  But then the narrator proceeds to say, in effect, "we only have one chance to get it right!" Huh? What chance?  Get what right? If what is, is, and cannot be otherwise, including us (with, silly us, our delusions of free will) then there is no decision-making to be done. 

(I think I'll have some chocolate.  No, I won't.  Yes, I will.  Well, but first I'll get up and do those arm exercises.  No, I won't.)

See? We exercise free will all the time. 

I freely will to finish this article.  (Or am I just being compulsive?)  No, I'm enjoying this.  (Am I?  My back is hurting a little and I could get up and....)

At least religion postulates a God that is really rooting for you to do the "right" thing.  If you have trouble knowing what that is, your fellow humans will help you figure it out via "religion."  Oh right, and "the law."

Amazing how many of us manage to get it wrong so much - manage to make so many mistakes.

Call me simplistic, but I call it - free will.

(And all the above doesn't even begin to deal with what seems to be the highest religious value of all - that essence of spirituality called "love".)

Love.  Now there's something that seems to be beyond the control of my free will!

P.S.  Just read one of Rumi's poems on a website and he talks about the Divine as being under complete control:  "I give faith and I take it away."

Okay, does Rumi contradict himself?  Very well, he contradicts himself... (Walt Whitman paraphrased.  Hmm, come to think of it Frank Lewis thinks some of Whitman's poetry evokes some of Rumi's.....)

July 10, 2007

I will never forget the first time I saw the comic gimmick of a person putting his own hands around his body (back to audience) and pretending he was two people making love.  I thought it was hilarious, and could easily toggle back and forth between seeing him as one or two people.  He was also very good at it.

But really, it was great modeling!  What better way to begin the habit of loving yourself?  You've got both sides of you giving you strokes, while providing a benefit to others!  Ideal!

Another comedy skit I think is really funny is the Saturday Night Live series where a couple gets off on pretending to abuse and/or hate itself, but gets hostile when a third party tries to join in the fun. 

I haven't thought of any psychological significance for that one.  If you come up with one that won't be like the unwelcome role of peacemaker, (which this is not about!) let me know!

July 9, 2007

When I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I had a brief acquaintance with a man I met in chorus.  One day I ran into him at the laundromat three doors down the street from my house and invited him over for tea.  On the way I was apologizing for how dark our house was going to be, and he said, "But isn't the darkness really in here?"  And gestured towards his head.  I don't remember responding.  He read palms and was into astrology (as was I) so I think I just took what he said under consideration.

Then we stepped into the living room, which dated from when the home was made for sanctuary from the sun, and my friend said, "Oh.  I see what you mean."

Later I read a short story by Doris Lessing with a similar theme.

Most of us aren't delusional.  Most of us speak from our experience, and when we do, we are most often correct.

If someone tells me he feels sick, I'm going to take him at his word, even if I'm only afraid he'll throw up in my car!


July 8, 2008


Temperature taking off.

Lettuce taking off (going to seed.)

Beetles taking off. (When I try to bat them into soapy water or onto pavement to squish them, they fly away instead.)

Clothes taking off.  (I'm wearing my most revealing tank top - the one that makes neighbors think I'm trying to seduce them.  (Or at least makes their wives think I'm trying to seduce them.  I'm not - they are mostly too young, plus married.)  My clothes are just flying off me - I can't help it!)

Me taking off.  (Not just my clothes!)

I'm taking off.


July 7, 2007

Well, lying in bed this morning I had a cool idea for something to write about, but getting ready for and going on a garden walk (took 3.5 hours) I forgot it!  So I'll give you one of my "touch of the spirit" tales.

Does anyone else find themselves "remembering" an incident someone else writes about in a book?  I was reading one of Carlos Castaneda's books, and he recounts an incident in which he and Don Juan are sitting at opposite ends of a bench in Mexico City.

A woman approaches, and Don Juan says to Carlos,  "This woman is almost perfectly balanced between the tonal and the nagual.  If she speaks to us, we must..." and then he said something about making her an apprentice, or teaching her, or something.  (Obviously, since I read this twenty years ago, the quote is only approximate.  I don't even remember which book it was in!)

It gave me the eeriest feeling.  I remembered being in Mexico City on my honeymoon, walking by myself.  I approached a bench with two men sitting on it, and almost spoke to them.  Then I thought to myself, "Why am I doing this?" and passed on by.

In the book the woman also passes by.  There is no physical description of her - might have called her young, but no more.

Of course, there are millions of people that could have been. 

Maybe I just made it up - my mind playing games with itself!  But I have to say, starting to talk to someone for absolutely no reason (well that's not uncommon for me!) but then not doing so - that's not common at all!

Well, that's one way to get involved in your reading!

But this has not happened to me often.  I don't seem to make a habit of it!

Sometime I will tell you my other Don Juan story!  It's a funny one.

July 6, 2007

A long time ago (in my teen-age diary, really) I defined happiness as "loving where you are."

Yesterday I was reading Breszny's horoscope and he quoted Gandhi as saying, "Happiness is feeling, doing, and saying the same thing."  I agree for the most part with that.  (Big of me, huh?)  It supports me in my search for congruence, saying that it will lead to happiness.

But I guess basically many of us sacrifice the kind of happiness Gandhi is describing for reasons of survival, what we perceive as necessary for our survival, duty, consideration for others - stuff like that.

Maybe his definition of happiness is freedom - or the free expression of oneself and the consequences be damned. 

But to me, it seems that true happiness lies in that plus society's acceptance of you, and in a genuine desire in you to say, do and be what is best for your milieu.

Aye, there's the rub.  How do you define yourself?  What if you are in the throes of growth and confusion (then you just say so - that's easily resolved - if you recognize it yourself!  Except what do you do?  I have an idea - how about only creative stuff!)

But how do you define your milieu - your neighborhood?  your village? your country? your continent?.... You get the idea!

Being happy is great!  But to be happy over time is quite a challenging proposition!

But hey, I'm all for it!  I always did want to be a tightrope walker!

July 5, 2007

Well, I am on kind of a high today.  Yesterday was fine.  It involved a community picnic that our dance group (VODS) participated in quite successfully, I think, thanks to Nikki Nixon and the Hoosier Recruits.

But it also has to do with gardening.  The younger generation may have trouble believing this, but harvesting your vegetables for the day from your own garden is an incredible high!  Today I got lettuce, chives, green beans, and kale.  Fresh, fresh, fresh.

Makes me feel fresh, too!

July 4, 2007

Ha, ha!  I just thought of something that maybe many of you (at least those in Iraq) have thought of before.  The President's name is George!  Maybe he has been hanging out with the Brits a little too much in recent years!  Maybe we have all been hanging out with the Brits too much!

I'm just joking kinda sorta.  But we say we are trying to help Iraq become independent, but we are not disinterested parties.  Anybody who has read enough self-help books knows that you cannot turn someone else's life around.  You may say or do the right things at the right time, but the real impetus for change has to come from within.  That is kind of hard to do when the person who is trying to "help" you wants you to be in good enough shape to treat them to a vacation in Hawaii!

If the Asian educated classes have so much anger towards the English, even when some part of the United Kingdom is their homeland, doesn't that say something about the English?

Same true here, I realize.  Believe me, I am talking about the U.S. as well as Great Britain.  It is that old imperialist energy cropping up again, fueled by sorry, not idealism but power-lust and self-interest.

Poor Iraq.  The people there are (variously) fighting a civil war, a revolution, and terrorism all at the same time.  It would be like trying to analyze a game that is a combination of chess, mah jong, and scrabble (no analogy intended here in specific - I don't know a thing about mah jong!) and then win!  With right on your side, to boot!

Now I know that what is going on at a time like the Revolution is always more complicated than what appears in the history books a hundred years later.

But still... our revolution was basically a revolution.  Our civil war was over-ridingly a civil war, in a country of vast dimensions.

Poor little Iraq - with so many factions and power trippers to try to get liberation from, no wonder so many have to settle for death.

With reverence for Patrick Henry, whose words, "Give me liberty or give me death!" have many times in my life helped me take a riskier path.  Hey, I'm not making any great claims to wisdom, but I have made it to sixty!  Pant pant gasp gasp.

P.S.  I expect that it is harder to attain the age of thirty in Iraq than it is to reach sixty in the U.S.!  Hats off to you, and people of all struggling countries!  May you give as well as take as well as give as well as take... blessed liberty.

And oh yeah, God willing, peace.

July 3, 2007

What do you think is important?  What do you think of people who don't think the same things are important?

Do you care enough about what you think is important to try to persuade others that it is important?

Do you see everyone as having his or her own right to decide what is important?

In other words, whoo doo yoou loove?

Ha! I'm getting positively Zen!  Riddle out that one, folks!

(Don't ask me!  I'm terrible at riddles!)  

July 2, 2007

When I read Rafi Zabor's I Wabenzi I was a little troubled by his attitude in general towards women, but especially so at his spiritual retreat in England.  The only women worth noticing, it seemed, were good-looking ones.  Very spiritual!  There was one woman who seems deserving of special attention - the mate of one of the higher-ups in the group (pardon me, but it has been months now since I read the book, and hierarchies in general bore me.)

On the whole, women seem to have little standing with him, evidently including the woman who had the abortion that drove him across the channel into the spiritual life to begin with.

Now I'm reading this book about Rumi (see Book Butterflies Too) and I am shocked at how little women seem to matter.  Rumi's mother was supposedly a very spiritually advanced woman, yet her death is specified only as occuring during the seven-year period they lived in a certain town.  No date recorded - not even a year.

I know that they all lived a long time ago, when women were undervalued as a matter of course, but it still troubles me.  Why should I pay any attention to what they say, especially when their spiritual descendents seem similarly inclined?

Simone de Beauvoir, in her book The Second Sex talks about how men perceive women as dragging them down into "immanence" - the earthly plane, presumably through sex and the needs of children.

Pulleeze!  When I was an innocent young woman in high school, I wasn't trying to play the temptress or get a guy to have sex with me.  Believe me, then and now, it is usually the guy who has sex on his mind first/more.

So where do they get off always trying to put the woman into this inferior position spiritually?  And the much bigger question - why have women traditionally let these guys get away with it?

Maybe now young women are more sexually active and sexually conscious.  But if they are, it is most likely the still-very-much-male-driven entertainment culture that has nudged them there.

I'm beginning to think all spiritual pretention on the part of males is just overcompensation for their lack of being able to have children and their fear of being pushed out of the hive like drones.

Now, you guys that I know, I'm not talking about any of you.  You don't seem to me to have spiritual pretensions, being of a more scientific, Western bent of mind on the whole.  No, I'm talking about the ones of a different bent, less materialistic if you will, that might have something to offer those of us who are trying to focus on something other than the almighty buck, if we could even be seen to exist at all.

Oh, right, to be subservient to a petty tyrant is very good spiritual training (Carlos Castaneda).   Well, if that is true, we women should be the best and highest!

July 1, 2007

When I was in my twenties I met a delightful woman, lively and funny and charming.  I was working full time, and I knew her relatively superficially, but she was one of those people who didn't seem to bother to be too superficial which in this town is a real breath of fresh air.

She was a follower of some Eastern guru, if I remember correctly Maharishi.  She was learning Sanskrit for fun.  (I'm sure she had a motive other than sheer fun, but that is how I think she put it.)

One time she was talking about another acquaintance of hers who gave her gifts.  I told her I felt uncomfortable when some one gave me too much stuff.  I either am financially unable to reciprocate, or really don't feel quite that same level of enthusiasm for the other party, who sometimes is quite a new acquaintance.  She responded that she gave her friend other kinds of gifts - spiritual ones.

I was still uncomfortable with it.  I still am.  Many of the so-called spiritual gurus seem to make this kind of trade:  the pleasure of my very spiritual company for your support, gifts, money.  I'm not saying that these spiritual people would accept worldly chattel from just anybody.  But the fact that they will accept it at all, more than the kind of minimum that Jesus seemed to allow (televangelists take note!), troubles me still.

What makes any of these guys different from con men?  After all, con men are reportedly often very loving and fun.  From what I've heard, they offer an experience of a lifetime in return for what they get from you.  Actually, I feel I was only really conned once and that cost me $100 and some time.  I think it was worth it, as entertainment paid for!  (I,ll admit I would not be happy if someone moved in with me and stole my life savings.  Oh, but on second thought I wouldn't attract that kind of con guy.)  Where was I?

Oh, yeah, What makes any of these holy wise guys different from con men?  The answer to that might be the element of deception, but I read just lately that deception always seems to be part of  sages' modus operandi (now where the hell did I read that?)  Maybe the difference is ill intent.

If these wise men are so spiritual, what is with all this desire for money and power over others?  And if they are really so spiritual, why don't they just give away their gifts?  Wouldn't that be more spiritual?

Why can't we keep our giving and taking on the same plane?

You know, one where I show you mine and you show me yours.  Bodies.  Wallets.  Spiritual insights.  Whatever.

Love, even.

Later in the day addendum.  Hmm... I don't mean to say I couldn't get over any discomfort at being given more than I can return, as long as there is no pretense or rationalization that it can be compensated for in another way.  In other words, mine might be not as big as yours, but that doesn't mean I'd reject it!  Hahaha boy today I am just in a laughing mood! 

June 30, 2007

My writings lately seem more like the heart of darkness than illuminations lately, for which I apologize.  Part of it is the diminishing of the light, as I have already mentioned.

Another part of it, I think, is my role as Death in the lives of so many Japanese Beetles, which are truly beautiful little copper and emerald-green critters.

If they were a once-in-a-lifetime sighting, I'm sure it would be a beautiful memory.

As it is -- hey, I read more the other day about how to get rid of Japanese Beetles!  Some people say that if you improve the soil that makes it less hospitable for them!  Today I pulled wild clematis, Virginia Creeper, black raspberries, and violets out of an area that is all-of-a-sudden getting more sun than before due to the loss of two silver maple trees across the street.

I put a rhubarb plant that has been waiting two years for a permanent home in the cleared space, then replanted the violets to help keep the soil in place.  (Improving the soil with compost is great, but your soil level ends up much higher!)  I ran into about 12 immature beetles while I was doing that and murdered some, but a couple got away.  (That doesn't even count the tens of beetles that I swat into a little bucket of water every day!)

Interesting that I didn't put my 'Murders of a Flower Child' up on this site until I was into full-swing as a murderer of beetles!

Really, though, it saddens me to be such a focused killer, and since I am reading all about Rumi at the same time, it makes me wonder about the state of my spirit!

June 29, 2007

Twenty-five years ago or so, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the telephone company (Mountain Bell) stopped answering its telephone.

I couldn't believe it.  All I wanted was a simple answer to a simple question about the availability of a product.  You know, the kind of question that any retail provider would be glad to pick up the phone and answer about its product.  (Well, twenty-five years ago, anyway.)

Except, evidently, the telephone company.

Now the "Phone Store" as they liked to call it, was not that far away from my home.  But at that time I was the mother of three small children and, often, the babysitter of three or four more.  An environmentally conscious one at that.  The idea of piling kids into a car and driving to a place which should be accessible by phone was antipathetical to me.

Being a woman with "hell inside," (a quote (believe it or not, from an inspirational message being sent around lately) which has struck my fancy) I had dreams of revenge.  Oh, I would "drop by" the store, all right.  I would pile eleven kids into my vehicle like clowns in a circus car, and let them loose on the Phone Store!

I would probably have to wait twenty minutes for a clerk, er I mean a Customer Assistant, to show up in the small showroom.  Then, after having to rephrase my needs at least five times (you realize I probably wanted something that did not yet exist - that's one of the things I wanted to find out via telephone!) I would take an incredible amount of time dithering around making up my mind about what to do (not uncommon for me).

All this time my children and every other child I could get my hands on would be gleefully bouncing off the walls of the store and playing with the merchandise, laughing, spitting up, sneezing, picking their noses, drooling... well, you know, all those things little kids do so well - without any of the usual admonitory attempts from me.

It was a wonderful fantasy! 

Unfortunately I never implemented it.  (My scruples and laziness often combine to create a kind of "when hell freezes over" situation and I, unlike Hamlet, do nothing.)

Somebody did, though.  A columnist for a local newspaper (his name was John Sherman, I think, and he subsequently moved himself and his family to Indianapolis) gave the phone company a mention in his kudo-and-raspberry article at the end of the year.

A raspberry to the Phone Store, for being the only store that won't answer the telephone!

Alas, I no longer have childish weapons to let loose (if only in my mind!) on a store.  Come to think of it, that's okay, because now there is not even a store.  Only the phone, and the Internet.

God, I feel lonely.

(This particular day's Rumillumination is dedicated to Verizon (the internet technical services division, which of late only puts on a real person to help you after half an hour on hold.  If then - I don't know - I  always hang up.  I'm told the average person hangs up (or used to) after five minutes.  Do you think that the telephone companies don't know this?  So what is the unspoken message they are giving?  I know what it is!))

Sorry, Geek Squad!  Sorry you had to get on the phone and answer questions for me that Verizon should have taken care of!

On second thought, maybe today's entry should be dedicated to the Geek Squad!

June 28, 2007

Well, I've been trying not to notice it, or pretending not to notice it, or maybe even truly not noticing it consciously, but I feel it in my gut.

The light is going.  I can't stand it!  I really am affected by light, and the going of it for the year has begun! 

I know I should turn toward the internal eternal light.  I know I should appreciate the wonderful long summery days ahead.  And I will, I will.

But when your gut lets you know first;  when you start having self-doubts and disgruntlements; when you start noticing those little early yellow and red leaves THAT ARE ALREADY STARTING TO TURN UP! then you know it has begun.  That light-driven high you have been soaring on is beginning to let you down and you better make sure you have candles, lamps, and inspirational texts on hand!

And for those of you who are too spiritual to notice and/or don't have seasonal affective disorder like I do, well goodie-good for you! 

June 27, 2007

There are more lightning bugs in our yard than any other yard in the neighborhood, as far as I can tell.  There are also more wild and unintentionally planted phlox, grasses, black rasberries, vines (about five different kinds!) and weeds in our yard than anywhere else in the neighborhood.

Are these two facts related?  I think so!  But I'll make a special effort to see what other yards have fireflies and what is growing there to see if our yard can be a little more civilized and lit up with magic too.

I've been researching lightning bugs on the web and evidently the larvae eat worms, grubs, and slugs.  They like warm wet conditions so maybe I'll water the wilderness patches in our yard a little more often.

Early in the evening they are usually seen within a few feet of the ground.  Last night I was out at 9:30 and there were some about halfway up the trees.  Thirty years ago I asked a guy (who later became my husband) to meet me in the Union Street graveyard at 11 o'clock at night to see an incredible number of fireflies reaching up to the tops of the trees!

Now that graveyard has bars under the gate to keep people out, thanks to the local vandals, but maybe I'm skinny enough to go see if there are still so many fireflies there!

June 26, 2007

Yesterday as I was editing and posting my latest 'Murder of a Flower Child' I felt a little self-doubt, probably the same doubt that kept me from posting them for so long.  Is this really a worthy use of my time?  But murder mysteries (in the case of mine, though, no mystery!) might be a modern form of catharsis, like dramatic tragedy.

I'm reading enough right now about saintly godlike mystic types to doubt the ultimate wisdom of my way of life completely, but since I mostly like my life I'm not much tempted by a greater asceticism.  (And when I say 'ultimate wisdom' what do I really mean by that?  That I'll have a better time later if I change my ways?  I don't really believe that, I don't think.)

Most likely, I must admit, after all this exposure to all these edifying ideas, I'll probably just continue on my merry-or-not present way.

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