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Rumilluminations Sept.-Nov. 2013
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Mon, September 02 2013 - 9:53 am

November 30, 2013                             Madison, IN

Re yesterday's rant:

Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck.  Maybe those weren't the insurance companies.  Maybe I've been scammed.

Let's see - wow!  All unpleasant.  Spam, scam, wham, bam (admittedly comic culture).  Flimflam, did that word exist before me?  Comic unpleasant.



Pam, as in the spray-non-grease or whatever it is.

Ha, ha possibly gram for those raised with ounces.

Cram.  Clam for those who don't like them, or for those who think they don't like them but do not know - not an uncommon state of being in landlocked states.

Trams are okay - ditto tams.  Drams are beloved by some who use the word meaning only one thing.

Damn!  I might have to cash in and go on the lam!

How lame!

er, oh.

I won't even go into intensifying these words with an e:  flame, shame, blame!

Lambs are okay, though, aren't they?

I don't know.  Even lambs have teeth.

Frame - can be okay but sometimes very, very, bad - as in the criminal variety.

Claim.  Oh, god, here we are back to the insurance companies.

Get out of my mind!


November 29, 2013                             Madison, IN

I just got off the phone with another insurance agent.  I have had four calls with four different people in order to get a Medicare Supplement Plan and a Part D plan.

Today I was positively grouchy about it, because it was a call that was going over the same ground that the 3rd call went over.

I took it with poor grace.  I don't think the young realize how weird this seems to people my age.  When I was younger you went and talked to a human being about your policy.  When it was done it was done - no follow-up phone call checks.

Or better yet - an insurance person came to our house.  I remember such a thing happening!

I don't think the current folks realize how much suspicion and irritation is aroused by repeated contact.  It is hard for us to believe in a reliable contract involving no agreement in person.  When they their right hand doesn't seem to know what the left one is doing, one begins to wonder if they are not human, but an octopus organization (nod to Frank Norris) that has not only two limbs but eight to keep track of.

I don't think these insurance companies are really managing very well.

Come to think of it, though, my frustration and distrust have been partly aroused by the Audubon Society.

Yeah, the Audubon Society!  Not only have they not acknowledged my check (which somebody cashed) or sent us our reward, but they have tried twice since to get us to join again!

At least Audubon Society seeks charity.  These insurance companies are supposed to provide a service (at no small expense) that we are almost required to buy.

Stress kills.  Insurance companies create stress.  Therefore insurance companies kill.  I've said it before and, alas, I'll probably be saying it again.

November 26, 2013                              Madison, IN

I have had a soreness in my left arm for weeks - maybe months.  I think I twisted it trying to reach into the back seat of the new car.

Well, I know I did.  But I'm not sure this is the same injury.  Someone at the gym thought my problem might be in the shoulder.

It varies - maybe it is my heart, but that is not why I am writing about this.

I'm writing about it because it hurts when I try to put on coats, sweaters, and jackets.

It has made me more empathetic to the very old who seem helpless in the face of some of their occupational therapy.  That, I have learned in the past decade, is the above-the-waist therapy that helps people do stuff like get dressed.

The young aren't exactly cruel when they are trying to get old folks to do this stuff, but they are very business-like.  In the future when I am around older people, I'm going to try to remember that they could positively be in pain when they are dressing up to go out into the cold.

They are just stoical, and too proud to admit that it hurts.

Ha, ha.  My Woody Allen generation will probably whine and moan so much, no one will be in ignorance!

Having said that, though, the last time I was at our book club my arm got suddenly painful and a little weak while I was struggling to shove it into my coat sleeve.

I tried to hide it.

I must have succeeded.  No one seemed to notice.

November 25, 2013                               Madison, IN

Years ago, after Judge Judy had already started, I ruminated that law classes on TV would be a good thing.  Silly me!  They had already begun.  TV being the medium, though, they weren't going to involve classrooms.

Instead, in addition to Judge Judy there are now at least three or four such shows (have been for awhile.)  And even before I had the "idea" O.J. Simpson's trial was televised - was it for days or weeks?  Now there is a plethora of trials, it seems, on cable TV.

To me trials are the ultimate bore.  There is no way I would sit transfixed in a courtroom or in front of courtroom TV for hours on end.  The commentary, though, and the highlights of these televised trials are teaching us all a good deal about the nature of the law.

Overall it seems like a good thing.  We, the members of the population who are paying attention at all, are learning a lot about the law.  We are learning much about the legal concept of the "reasonable person" and interpersonal boundaries.

One of my concerns about this real life classroom is part and parcel of the medium.  Are people rewarded for bad behavior?  They are awarded for it with individual attention, certainly.  Unfortunately that seems to be what a good number of Americans are starved for.

My other concern is that some people, especially youths with their heads buried in video games, are missing out on the education entirely.

Instead they are learning a whole different set of skills in which ethics have no part at all.

Sigh.  Maybe the schools are going to have to take up more legal education after all.  Back to the old, dry, generalizing classroom.

November 25, 2013                               Madison, IN

Dunno what's wrong with me.  More physical exercise, less mental exercise?

Paralysis of the will?

Simply nothing to say?

Addiction to escapism - another way of saying addiction to stupidity?

Duh.  duh duh.

I keep waiting to wake up.

November 18, 2013                               Madison, IN

Has the success of nonprofitable Twitter's IPO shown that buying stock in a company is more a social than a financial thing - kind of like joining a club?

Will the stock market become a corporate popularity contest? 

Or is the public support of Twitter a vote of confidence - an act of faith?

Whatever it is it is weird.  I wonder what the demographic of Twitter stock buyers is.

November 17, 2013                               Madison, IN

Minister Frank Schaefer is in trouble for performing his son's gay marriage and is now waffling on TV about performing any more gay marriages.

Hey, Frank Schaefer, if it is okay for your son it is okay for anyone else.

You have decided the church has this one wrong, and a lot of other people think so, too.

Throw the door wide open!  Say yes, you will marry other gay couples.

You have gained national notoriety which means also national fame for your loving act.  If the church wants to squash you, I'm willing to bet others will embrace you and pay you well for performing their marriages.

You could end up with a career much more exciting, interesting and profitable than your little old church ministry ever was.

Even if you loved your work before, if the church drops you there are plenty of folks around to pick you up.  We hope you can see that this adversity could turn into the best fortune you have ever had.

P.S.  Just think of all the connections your gay children have!

November 14, 2013                              Madison, IN

In a lesson with my sole ESL student this afternoon, I looked at English in a way I never had before.

You could look at an "s" almost as a ball in a ball game.  When it comes to catching the ball a verb trumps a 34d person noun.  In other words, if your noun is singular, the verb gets the "s".  (Ha, ha, maybe English considers that a singular noun already got its s.)  For example, a friend visits.  When there is only one subject, the verb gets the ball.

When there is more than one person comprising the subject, however, it trumps the verb.  "The friends visit."  Or should I say, when the subject is plural it gets the ball.  A composite noun, being a single whole, loses the ball.  For instance, "The Committee sets the rules." 

Well, it may set the rules, but it doesn't get the ball!  If more than one committee is involved, however, they gain the ball again.  Committees can out-trump one committee.

Too bad the idea is so limited in its application.  Because it only works as a general rule, and English is so complicated that its general rules don't apply very much of the time.

Well, I enjoyed bouncing the "s" around, anyway.  In my mind, that is.

The fact is, "I" gets the ball, but I never get it!

November 10, 2013                             Madison, IN

In my mom's lifetime, the automobile went from a rarity to an everyday object.  Ditto airplanes.  Actual air travel in those days after her birth was probably more unknown than space-as-a-destination is today.

In my lifetime we have gone from TV as the exception in a household to, in some households, TV in every room.  We have gone from being happy with mail service to complaining about mail service to usually not having to worry about mail service.  Email, that is.

On the more negative side:

Mail of both kinds has gone from a joy to a chore.

If we allow TV advertising to affect us, an innocent sneeze invoking a God-bless-you in the past will now merit a "Don't-infect-me" glare.

If we allow advertising to affect us, we will become morbidly obese within a year.

If we allow advertising to affect us, we will take "brain and bod" pills thinking that their consumption will transport us to the beautiful beaches of the world.

And, yes.  Unfortunately we do let advertising affect us.

Dang.  They say everything we see and read and hear is in our subconscious somewhere, waiting to have an effect on us - ready to spring into action like a firearm introduced in a stage-play (or in real life, for that matter!)

It is true, I'm sure.  I believe it.

What I don't understand, then, is this:

How come I can't remember the name of that kind of boat that pushes barges down that river - you know, the river that flows right outside the windows of our apartment building, the one we ring through the seasonal changes watching from our lawn chairs on the porch, I mean the what-d'you-call it?

Is it because I don't see advertisements for them?

I have no problem at all remembering the word, "cruiser!"

November 9, 2013                           Madison, IN

Why does the human race have such an obsession with an after-life, even if it means a possibly nasty hellish one?

Even people who, like me, have cast our former religions aside, are willing to believe in at least the possibility of ghosts or some form of the spirit which could conceivably live on after the body perishes.

Those who do not believe in an afterlife often say that a person lives on "in you" - in your own mind and memory.

And therein, I believe, lies the key.  After someone dies we think of him or her often - possibly more often than we thought of them before their death, if our day-to-day lives were lived separately.  Living in another state was not for my generation the same as it is for me and my children.  Talking on the phone was costly and an expense not deemed acceptable (and/or affordable) by the Depression-baby generation.

I don't want to believe in ghosts, because I don't like the idea of their coming and going unseen.  Yet even so, I kind of hallucinated the ghost of my mother's presence once when I embraced my sister after her death.

Our minds don't want to let go of someone or something, especially a close family member, so it projects that mental image onto the external world.

A ghost, in other words, is a product of our own obsession.

I think.

November 3, 2013                           Madison, IN

I had myself a little adventure today.  Planning to walk up the Heritage Trail and back, I was put off a little by the prospect of going up at the same time as an unknown male.

Now every almost every male in Madison, Indiana is unknown to me and I encounter one almost every time I walk the trail, but for some reason I didn't trust this one.  Maybe because when I was on the little drive approaching the trail he didn't gently beep to let me know he was there - I heard the crunch of his tires on the leaves.

For all I know he was just being considerate.  A beep that close would definitely have made me jump.  Still - I didn't trust him.

For that reason (I tell myself it wasn't because I couldn't face the climb) I branched off to the left on the unpaved part of the trail, fantasizing about the possibilities of doubling back or walking all the way to Clifty Falls State Park.  I chose the latter.

It is a little hop skip and jump from where the Heritage Trail meets the highway to the entrance to the park.  I thought I might ask at the entrance about alternate trails back to town but it was unmanned.  Free Admission.

I walked enough of the park road to satisfy my need for hill bragging rights, then turned back in spite of an errant impulse to walk all the way up to Clifty Falls Inn and have some lunch.  I didn't really want to walk all the way back.

So I walked back down the highway, looking for a different way home than the same trail I came on.  The edge of a golf course south of the highway looked like a good way to avoid the traffic on the highway bridge, so I braved that.

Caterpillar or bulldozer tracks!  Mud underneath a too-thin layer of fallen leaves.  Unknown, possibly private land with possible tramps' camps or guard dogs!  A river crossing, complete with a scary slip down the bank.  I kept my footing and didn't get wet.

Coming up on the other side of the river I came to a paved road.  Street.  Unguarded civilization.

The rest of the walk home was cake, blooming roses and riotous fall foliage.  I had broken in and muddied my new casual shoes and had a thoroughly satisfying time.  Nothing like a little imagined danger to add just the right amount of picante to life!

November 1, 2013
                           Madison, IN

Well, dang-di-dee dang dang I have never in my lifetime experienced a less Halloweenie Halloween!

It used to come to me.  When I had to give up Halloween trick-or-treating as a junior high school student I could enjoy the holiday vicariously through the little monsters and fairies that came to our door.

College Halloween had at least a few students dressing up, or if they were too cool for that, celebrating Guy Fawkes day in November.  When we were living in one neighborhood in Santa Fe, we had people coming from all over the area to trick-or-treat.

Even last year in this apartment building we had a few relatives-of-neighbors come by for candy.

This year I was told kids would be trick-or-treating on Saturday, so I was ready with one bag of little Snickers.  I did hear a child cry out in a Halloween kind of voice from the darkness nearby, but that was all.

Yesterday morning bode well.  Gusts of wind blew big yellow leaves out of the trees.  Perfect Halloween weather.  Halloween night itself was rainy and windy, but in spite of all the tornado-warning reporting from nearby counties, no worse than every-other Halloween in my childhood experience.  Relatively warm and balmy, as a matter of fact.  We had bought another bag of candy - dark chocolates with almonds, just in case we would end up eating it ourselves.

We put the porch light on and hung out, honestly expecting nothing.  And Nothing happened.  Nothing!

Rumors abound.  The kids all go to parties these days.  Halloween is supposed to happen tonight!  Halloween, according to some (one?) of our lawmakers who probably don't believe in the cathartic value of watching theatrical tragedies either, say Halloween is evil!

Well, as Rilke once observed, "If you take away my devils, my angels may desert me as well."

Unless trick-or-treat really does happen tonight, and all the little toddlers come dressed as cherubim and Seraphim!  (The latter of which spell-check doesn't believe in.)

Just in case we get a visitation from Heaven or Hell, we haven't yet eaten up all the chocolate.

October 26, 2013                           Madison, IN

On my long walk home from my mate's workplace parking lot after working out at the gym, I encountered The Mighty Chihuahua!

He was brindled brown and black and very hoarse.  I don't know how a dog whose bark has been removed sounds, but I thought maybe that was what was wrong.  I don't know, though, that bark was barking constantly, even before I came close.

He was also uncollared and loose.

I worried about him a little.  Was he lost?  Abandoned?  The words of an acquaintance of mine ran through my head:  "A barking dog is an unhappy dog."

Well.  That diminutive dog certainly seemed happy to be barking at me!

A very little girl played in the backyard of a house across the street.  "He won't bite" I think she said.  I said, "Is this your puppy?"  "A shy nodded and vocalized "uh-huh."

"Can you call him, then?"

She tried.  I could barely hear her try once but the dog ignored her.   I decided he was being protective of the child of the household, but that didn't mean I could turn my back on him.  I kept telling him, "Go home!" in the high voice I have read you should use with dogs.

Finally an adult male came out and started yelling at the dog, who just ran farther away from him (and me, thank goodness).

He told me the dog wouldn't bite.


They must think I'm a wimp - and I am.  I really don't want to defend myself against something that weighs 1/100 of my own weight!

Then I might have to defend myself against its whole family.

A block or two later I passed a couple of groundhogs fattening up for the winter - and very successfully, too.

The wild animals were placid.

October 25, 2013                            Madison, IN

Ha, ha - hallo!

Ha, ha, hallowee-



Hallo, wee ones!


Co-come to m-my house, goblins and queenies!

Too many no-shows, too few sweet-eaters

and we are left with gobblings and no goblins-

No treaters is a dirty trick to play on

Weak-kneed sweet treat resisters.

On the other hand, there is always the don't buy anything porch-lights-out option.

All the costumed tots go to parties and stores these days.

A pity.  Nothing in childhood was so much fun as the once-a-year run of the dark neighborhood, clomping around in big wornout daddy clown shoes or tripping over  old holey sheets!

October 23, 2013                            Madison, IN

I'm trying to get into better shape, so I finally got around to finding a gym in Madison that has a Silver Sneakers program, which I get free through my insurance plan.

If it sounds like this was a difficult task, it wasn't.  The first gym I called had the plan.  Maybe I was lucky if this is the only gym here that does.

Silver Sneakers is fun, and the only gym class for Seniors I have attended that is remotely challenging (except for balance exercises, which for the first time in my life I find problematical.)

Silver Sneakers as sponsored by Fit for the King in Madison is fast-paced, rapidly changing, and fun.

Hey, it isn't so much fun that you don't wonder when it will be over so that you can quit moving - but maybe that is because I do some machine working out before I start the class.

This pattern works well.  Maybe it is the machine-work I do first that uses me up just enough that it takes a little effort to get through the class.  If I am still raring to go at the end of the Sneakers session, I can just up the amount of work I do before class starts.

Oh - and the gym has given me a free membership as part of the arrangement.  Sign up for Silver Sneakers and you can also take yoga.

Hmmmm, and what about Zumba!

October 20, 2013                            Madison, IN

Ideal autumn day, crisp air, I walked along the Heritage Trail doing curls with my water bottle, counting.

It seemed as if everything was just as beautiful as usual, but I only heard one bird.  Didn't see any.

No animals - not even a squirrel.

Is everybody hunkered down or flown north already?

I know I am hunkering down at home, although we have not put the heat on yet.  Having a vacant apartment next door means we'll probably have to put it on sooner.

Anybody need a place to live - affordable housing with mostly great neighbors?  Come to wonderful Madison, Indiana and see the sun glittering on the river!

October 17, 2013                      Madison, IN

Tuesday this week we headed east to see the autumn.  We got as far as Chillicothe, OH, which was far enough.  Since it was smoggy there we decided not to spend the night.  Really we would have been perfectly happy to turn around after seeing Seven Caves Canyon, in my opinion the most beautiful part of the drive.  We look forward to heading back there when my partner is in better hiking condition.

Long distances were not really our goal.  The only reason we went as far as Chillicothe was because I had heard the name from way back and was curious.  I still don't know what the big deal was.

Another name I've always heard was Wilmington because (and this was the real reason for our trip) because I had an ancestral home in Waynesville, Ohio.  Being a very small town, Waynesville was always being left behind for shopping and other outings to Wilmington, Dayton, and Lima.  I had certainly heard of Lima, Ohio before I ever heard of Lima, Peru.

We spent the night in Wilmington at the Wilmington Inn, a more than reasonably priced motel.  Too bad Hampton Inn, by staying at the Wilmington we paid for our dinner with the difference in price.  Admittedly breakfast would have been better at the Hampton Inn.

We went to Waynesville to deliver my great-aunt's medical school diploma to the library there, the Mary L. Cook Public Library which was named after her because she was the founding mother.  It is a wonderful library for such a small town!  We also donated two framed embroideries created by my multi-talented great aunt, who, being a small town doctor, evidently had time between patient visits and anytime horse-and-carriage drives to deliver babies for creative outlets and hobbies.

We got lucky and toured the Friends Home Museum, tagging along with a bunch of third graders on their educational visit.  The docent made much of my fortuitous presence.  So kind of him.  This building may have been where my great aunt was living when she passed away in her 93rd year.  I'm not sure.

It was a quick weekend getaway, both meaningful and fun.

October 14, 2013                        Madison, IN

This morning I realized something else about the mysterious footprint on the windshield - the night I think it happened I had parked our car beneath a tree.  Now I think a student used it as a leg up to climb into the tree.

Anybody want to go into the private detective business with me?  Over the years I have invited several intelligent (and unemployed!) people to pursue this avenue with me, and all have declined.  I have tried very hard not to take this personally.

Nowadays you probably have to have some kind of certificate and/or experience to put out a shingle as a private investigator.  I have one course I took during my paralegal studies.  Would that qualify me?  I'm sure not -  but maybe it is just necessary to pass an exam.

I read an article once about a white-haired lady who was a lone private investigator.  I admire her entrepreneurial spirit, but I would rather have a partner.

She never carried a gun.  If guns are de rigeur nowadays, I would have to have a partner to be the gun-toter.  Maybe that's why the close-lipped image of the ideal detective.  When your partner is carrying a gun, you would definitely not want to be obnoxiously loquacious!

Hmm....  Maybe I need to rethink this ambition.

October 12, 2013                                Madison, IN

Along with my theme of yesterday, unexpected assaults, I include assaults in the form of medical bills.

I don't get it.  If you are planning to repair your back porch, you have a professional (or at least a seeming professional) look at it and give you an estimate of how much it will cost to fix it.  He, in many if not most places, will be required to stay within some percentage of that estimate.

A caterer will tell you how much your wedding rehearsal dinner will cost.  Unforeseen factors may change the final cost slightly or perhaps not at all - at least to you.

The medical profession, however, will not do this.

I understand that most doctors are honorable people.  I also understand that healing the body may not be as simple as fixing the back porch (although the hidden ravages to the latter might be just as much of a surprise.)

Refusing to give the patient any idea at all of what a test or operation or emergency room visit will cost, however, is just plain wrong.  Wildly extravagant charges for pills, procedures, tests and bandages are as unconscionable as charging a million dollars for fixing a back porch on a farmhouse.

We tolerate it because we think that, by gum, we are worth healing at any price.  It just isn't true.  We merely don't know what we are getting into.  We have no idea.

I may have mentioned an emergency room visit I made in the middle of the night because I had a bladder infection and I was in pain.  Hospital personnel would/not could/not give me an idea of what treatment would cost.  I got treated immediately and presented with a bill of over $700!

At the rate of one hundred dollars an hour, believe me I would have nobly waited until morning to be seen.

Do I trust hospitals the way I might conceivably trust a doctor?  No way!

I have seen the light.  Your only defense against hospital robbery, people is to stay away from hospitals.

My future parting comment to people will be not "See ya," or "Goodbye," or "Ciao," or "Bless you, my child!"

It will be "Stay healthy!"

Kind of in the spirit of "Stay out of bars!" or "Stay off the highways on Labor Day weekend" or - as in the film Distant Thunder -

"Discard all food that flies have settled on!"

"I love you.  Stay healthy and stay away from hospitals!"

It's your only defense.

October 11, 2013
                                 Madison, IN

The hardest assaults to deal with are the unexpected ones.  I was inured to the sad fact that I would eventually become long in tooth but what I was not prepared for was that I would become, at such a tender age of 66, long in lobe!

Even in college I kind of envied some of my classmates' almost nonexistent earlobes.  How do they look now, I wonder?  Well, I don't care.  I'm not going to compensate by putting disks (or whatever they call those big things that are now popular among the young) in mine.

And what about hair?  I knew that eventually I would grow gray - even if I can put it off as long as my mother, whose hair didn't go completely gray/white until she was in her nineties.  What I wasn't expecting was to grow wiry!  These gray hairs are by no means silken.  To look on the bright side, the wires sprouting out of my head would effectively prick any hand that might try to pull back my locks and observe my earlobes.

A woman's crowning glory is, they say, her hair.  So what if the metal is dullish silver and wiry?  I've decided to be philosophical about aging.  It's okay - everybody who lives long enough does it.

I'm okay - that is,  for as long as I have hair!

Or would my hair just be my crowning hoary?

October 8, 2013                                Madison, IN

Went outside early this morning (by the light not by the clock) to do some laundry.

The river was magical.  There was mist rising from the water and rising in front of the bridge that was the original natural drama from which the paltry dry-ice effects of the theatre arise.

This is what I've been missing, of course.  I haven't gotten outside enough.  I floated around with the mist for a while, then came back inside.

How could I have gotten so out of touch with what inspires me the most?

Today on the way to Louisville on Highway 71 my partner got a glimpse of a whole bevy of young deer on a knoll.  He only had time to gasp, and we were gone.

He got the deer, but I got the mist.

October 7, 2013                             Madison, IN

I'm smelling cigarette smoke.  I look to my left, and the sliding closet doors are open.  Our filter's filters have arrived in the post, but not the big thing itself, and even after it comes I should probably keep those doors closed.

The day of my last rant I went to work after I wrote it, and sat and rode in the catering truck with four other people - all smokers.  The driver talked on her cell phone while trying to navigate a winding road in the rain at dusk.  I've decided the universe is trying to tell me I'm doing something wrong, and that something wrong is this job.

No, don't try to talk me out of it. That same evening on the job I walked in wet puddly grass and finished off the pair of leather shoes I told myself I would throw out after I quit this particular form of employment.  Driving back and forth costs money, and my partner has to pay taxi fare to get home most of the evenings I work.

On top of that, I saw a barefootprint on the outside of our windshield this morning!  And a couple of little dents on the roof and scratches on the hood.

Admittedly, these artifacts of misuse could have been created in the parking lot of our apartment building, but they are (let's face it) more likely to happen to an automobile lurking around a college campus.  Especially since our car is just like that of someone who works there.

My job was only very occasional and part-time anyway, and the prospect of more hours next year arouses no joy in my heart.

No.  Four dollars an hour net (even less after taxes?) is not worth it.

I am truly happy for the first time in months.

October 5, 2013                            Madison, IN

Where are my rants?

I know I have them around here somewhere.  I voice them with the slightest encouragement, or without it...

Where have they gone?  There are subjects enough for them.  I won't bother to enumerate them.  You have them too.

Oh, but I just remembered a pet peeve that I see every day:  those cheap plastic screw-case covers on toilets that don't stay down.

Oh, and shutdowns of any kind:  governmental, emotional, well maybe not every kind.  Some shutdowns are good:  the shutdown you give your car or truck when you stop somewhere for more than a minute.

A shutdown of lies - now there would be a good one!  Well, maybe except the little ones that would seem innocuous to you and might be life-changing to me.

Oh, oh!  I just remembered the subject of one of my potential rants.

Cigarette smoke!  We are spending $400 for a filter so we don't have to breathe it in our own bedroom.  (It comes through our closet from an apartment downstairs.)

And the fact that I can't walk outdoors for a block in this town without breathing cigarette smoke!

Come on, fellow citizens!  Come on up to the 1960s!

Kool or a cigarette by any other name means cancer, and that is definitely not cool.

I am sick and tired of seeing hearing smelling people hacking their lungs out and then lighting up a cigarette!

There's a rant for you.  Smoke on your pipe and put that in!

(And to those easily exhausted folks who eschew exclamation points - I took out half of them out just for you.)  (!)

October 3, 2013                             Madison, IN

Can a girl be winsome and lissome?

We have haves and havenots, how about the rest of us, the havesomes?

How about a withersome guy with a bald block?

What's a pittance?  A dance in a pit?

Are Lancelot and Camelot famous because of their names?

Is the flip side of a record considered less serious?

People can be flip and flippant - how come they can't be
piss and pissant?  How come both girls and boys can be buoyant?  And what do those words have to do with ants, anyway?  (Ha, ha, surprise - at least one does!)

Someone can't be piss, but they can be pissy.  Does that come from pissee?

How come some words that are officially okay like penis and vagina and urine and feces sound worse than their vulgar counterparts?  Could it be that commoners have more aesthetic sense than scientists?

Or is that opinion mine alone?

October 1, 2013                             Madison, IN

When our TV went black, we went out and bought a smarter one.  We cut back our netflicks to one film at a time and bought the streaming service.  My partner is so happy!

Remember the furor over the "planned obsolescence" of products designed to give out so that people would buy new ones?

Who ever thought we would welcome it?  Now we do!

In fact, we are hoping our electronic stuff will give out so that we have an excuse to buy the next faster, smarter, more technologically sophisticated product.

We've come a long way, baby!

September 23, 2013                      Madison, IN

Lately my partner has been choosing comic acts via netflix streaming, trying to find something to tone our abdominal muscles, I guess.

Seems like they like audiences with a marked by a different kind of sixpack.  And it must be drunken audiences who like them;  we obviously haven't been drinking enough.

Well, hell, I noticed that decades ago.  People laughed at my modest jests much more hysterically after the water had turned into wine.

How do these comics get whole hour-long shows, we wondered. These people are not that funny, uproarious audience response notwithstanding.

The other morning I figured it out.  The younger generation drinks so much they have literally dulled their minds.  Anything makes them laugh.

Ha!  What old fogies we are!  Our parents' generation couldn't see much humor in what we thought was funny.  I'm sure they thought the jokes were ignorant and vulgar.

Sigh.  They were undoubtedly right.

September 22, 2013
                           Madison, IN

If I had written day before yesterday, I would have written about the horrible devastation wrought by the flooding in Colorado.  I would have lamented not only the loss of life (how many are still unaccounted for?) and the dislocation of thousands of their friends and neighbors, but the loss of the pristine cleanliness of one of our most beautiful states by the escape of oil and fracking chemicals from their pipes and containers.  We are thinking about you, folks in Colorado!

If I had written yesterday, I would have written about mass murders.  In the past while I was living near Chicago, I would get on the news my daily dose of death by shooting news - often the death was that of a teenager or even younger child.  It was deplorable.

Now those days seem like days of innocence lost.  Now we do not wake up to news of another death;  we awake to multiple deaths - mass murder deaths!  Today, in Nairobi Kenya, where hostages are still being held in what has been called "a well-planned attack" of a mall!  My partner snorts in derision.  "Not a fortress, a mall.  I'm not impressed."  Yesterday, in Chicago.  Last week, in a naval installation, in D.C.

If fame and infamy is your motive for these actions, people, it is too late.  Your numbers have made you merely ignominious.  If you want to be at the top of the list and become famous for something - better to invent a creative popular toy or make a medical breakthrough.  (Such a thing is not impossible - I know of a woman who invented a cure for a disease inflicting her father while she was in high school!)

Well, that is what I would have written on those days.  I guess what I would have commented on today will just have to wait until tomorrow!

September 19, 2013                           Madison, IN

This morning the big bang of the exploding of the last section of bridge happened 1/2 hour early.  Our neighbors reported that the engineers were trying to beat the storm.

They did.  But only by about 10 or 15 minutes!  Shortly thereafter we heard thunder as loud as the explosion.  The disappointment was in not seeing that puff and the moment of suspension before the fall of the old bridge.

Went on a walk later;  the new bridge looks beautiful - simple and clean except for beneath where the temporary iron scaffolding still holds it up.  Now the rumor is that the slide will happen in November.  We shall see - or not!  The public isn't as important as the project.

Meanwhile the last I heard there are still 200 people unaccounted for in Colorado.  I'll try to get an update.  It begins to look ominous for those still missing.  It has been days!

September 18, 2013                           Madison, IN

Here I sit, mad in Madison.  Does the name of the town affect me this way?  Nah, I'm probably anger-prone anyway.

When I first got my Blue Cross/Blue Shield for 0 a month (after all, the Government is paying $10,000 per year for it on the Medicare program!) I was pretty much assured that if it went up at all, it would go up maybe 10, 12 dollars a month.

It went up to $34 per month - on top of what the government is paying - waaaaaaay more than the costs I am incurring so far, I assure you!

I ate it.  Didn't want to deal with a changeover.  Now I know why. They let me know at this time of year, right before the deadline for a change.

This year I get my new info.  Now I am supposed to pay $63 per month!  I suspect that the insurance company gets your visit report from the doctor, finds out what treatment you have gotten and what treatment you may need, and changes your payment accordingly in advance.

Or maybe they are just screwing all of us (including the government) indiscriminately.

As a result of my experience, though, and the experiences of all those who have found themselves uninsured after losses attributed to Acts of God and other dodges, I suggest a new name for these rapacious companies.

How about "Assurance Companies?"  Named so because no matter how much you pay and how many losses you sustain, the Company will have the assurance that they will make money.  Oh, named assurance companies also because they are inhuman individuals headed by asses.

I am tempted to drop my non-required insurance and if something really expensive medically big happens I will just self-euthanize.

Who wants to be decrepit, anyway?

September 16, 2013                           Madison, IN

Yesterday morning I was sitting in the living room when I heard what sounded like geese honking... or was it a trumpet??  I got up quickly and opened the door to hear better, but it was over.  I looked at the clock:  6:30.  Maybe someone on the visiting battleship was playing reveille!

So when I went down to the river to take the tour today, that was the first thing I asked.  Did they have someone playing reveille?  Yes.  What time was it?  6:30.  Ha!

This morning I was going to get out on the balcony so I could hear it.  Alas, I slept through.  Maybe tomorrow. 

LST 325 is a ship built during World War II that participated in the D-Day landing at Normandy.  The LST stands for Landing Ship Tank.  There were over a thousand of them built, this one (and maybe all of them for all I know) in Evansville, Indiana.

I reported the other day what a bystander said about this boat - that it could hold 40 tanks.  By taking the self-guided tour I found that the number was actually twenty.  This ship also possessed anti-aircraft guns that took five men to operate - one to control horizontal aim, another to determine correct altitude, one to load, one to supply the loader with the ammunition, which held four rounds apiece and someone else who did I forget what.

I'm glad I went to visit the boat.  For one thing, I could easily see that its guns are aimed at the neighboring apartment building, not ours.  The real three-dimensional thing also gives me a much more vivid idea of what D-day was like.  Even seeing that gaping maw by the side of the river was impressive, but actually getting aboard and walking around was very cool.  I chuckled over the fact that we were probably in Kentucky when we went aft!

The ship belonged to the Greek government for thirty-odd years starting in 1964.  It was named Syros for the Greek island where it was kept there - seemingly to - but wait, I don't want to ruin this for you.  Take the tour!  And ask a lot of questions of the volunteers manning her.

The normal home of this big vessel is Evansville, IN.  If you are interested in visiting you can get over here quick today - before 4 o'clock - or visit the Evansville Visitors Bureau website at

Even people who come from Quaker stock like me can appreciate this big hunka history.

September 14, 2013
                            Madison, IN

Flooding in Colorado forcing the evacuation of hundreds in Boulder, Lyons, Longmont and now even Denver has us thinking of you readers in the area and your neighbors.  We hope that the 172 people still unaccounted for are holed up with friends and relatives in nearby higher altitude locations.

My sister in Denver is going to get another phone call today.  I hope she isn't getting tired of them!  She and her mate are on relatively high ground, so I'm going to assume that they are okay until it is late enough to attempt a phone call.  Hope the exchanges aren't busy!

This morning after bathing I went with three towels into the living room to dry off a little and heard a sound from outside like honking geese - or was it trumpet notes?  Almost sounded like reveille.

There is a battleship from World War II on the river in front of our building.  Luckily we have trees and a shelter between the ship and us.  If it weren't for that, I think those guns would be pointed straight at our apartment.  Scary.

This ship has a huge maw of an opening from which tanks used to emerge on the shore.  Forty, according to one passer-by!

I guess I'll have to take the $10.00 tour and tell you about it tomorrow.

(Yes, the Ohio is a big river!)

P.S.  Yikes!  I just read on a scroll that New Mexico is also experiencing floods.  Gotta look up where.

September 13, 2013                             Madison, IN

"Trust me."  In the past when I heard a man say that - I definitely wouldn't!  Nowadays that is how I feel no matter who says it.

People may think that they know it all.  They may have supreme faith in their own feelings, or they may actually possess an exceptional understanding of reality.

It's an illusion.  We may know a lot, but we don't, any of us, really know what the future may bring.

All things considered, none of us knows much of anything - least of all our own selves!

Trust me on this.

September 11, 2013                             Madison, IN

If you are going to be able to travel to Madison, IN before the end of October, you might want to take advantage of the jet boat rides available every day through the end of this month.  The rides in October will be on weekends and/or by appointment, I forget exactly.

When we first came to Madison and saw the Wild Thing sales booth (yellow, their signature color) and heard the screaming teens on some of the rides, we kind of looked askance.  Not what I would have had in mind for a boat ride for us mature folks.

This year, however (some of us are kind of slow) I noticed that their signs say "Wild and Scenic Rides."  So on our "weekend", Monday evening, we took the two hour scenic ride which goes up the Ohio River, then turns into the Kentucky River.  We saw heron, of course, but also had a couple of great kingfisher sightings.  The eagles that are frequently visible did not show themselves to us, alas.

I was surprised that this wasn't a simple ride.  Janet, our pilot, also gave us some interesting information about several subjects en route.  I would tell you but I don't want to ruin it for you!

These folks have the ride timed to be comfortable even on the hottest evening, and Janet veered back and forth to give us a little bit of a joyride on the return trip.  She restrained herself from going full circle, though.  Darn!

If you need an outing but can't handle a hike in this weather, I recommend the boat trip.  Ticket sales are happening at the river end of West Street in Madison, or you can talk to Paul or Janet at 812-701-1155 or visit for more information.

For my next ride I think I'll join the screaming teens!  Looks like fun.

September 10, 2013                             Madison, IN

This is a cautionary list for renters, especially first-time tenants-to-be:

Many landlords are simply wonderful.  No doubt about it.

But why count on it?  So:

Don't just try the faucets when you are in the kitchen and the bathroom.  Open the oven door as if you were going to put a pie in it.  In other words, not too terribly gently.  Once a property manager bragged to me about the new stove she had put in, and the first time I went to use it the oven door handle came off in my hand.  She charged me for a new oven when I moved out.

Check out the light fixtures to make sure they don't have any cracked panes you didn't notice.  In fact, check all the lights.  Just because they look good doesn't mean they work.

If you move a mirror or other feature and find damage behind/under it, make a note to yourself and write a note to the landlord.

Want to leave a couple days earlier than you had planned?  Don't want to bother with a final walk-through?  Don't assume that your landlord will be there the day you are supposed to be gone to check the place out.  Once I got charged for the weeding that had to be done three weeks after I moved out.  (D'ya think weeds grow?)

Don't believe a landlord that has a secretary tell you over the phone not to worry about having the carpets shampooed because they are going to replace them.  If they come it and see that the carpets look better than than they did when you moved in, they might decide to keep them - and hit you with the cleaning bill.

There are many more such potential admonitions I could give you, but you get the idea.

My final advice to you is, if you are comfortable in a place go ahead and stay there as long as you can - seven years is good, because after that you will begin to think you own the place - and landlords know this.  A good reason for doing this is that when you get stiffed for your cleaning deposit (which you probably will) you can be philosophical about it.  If you average the amount you lost over time, it will probably equal another $10 or $20 dollars a month rent.

Or, if you are too badly ripped off and you have moved far away, sue.  I have often wished I took one of my less honorable landlords to court to get more of my considerable cleaning deposit back.  Too bad I didn't know then about Judge Judy!

September 6, 2013
                              Madison, IN

Tomorrow I have to work.

Work.  Perk.  Shirk.  Lurk.  Jerk.  Murk.  Cirque.  Clerk (for years working to me meant clerking.)  Dirk.  (Not the person, the dagger.)  Kirk (Not the person, the church.  Doesn't some language pronounce it that way?) Quirk.  Turk.  Burke.  Berserk. 

Only three or four of those words have the least positive connotations for me.
No wonder work is so irksome!

To a poet, at least.

Maybe if we used a different word, like job.  Bob mob sob lob fob cob knob gob nob rob slob good grief, if anything it is worse.

Profession, maybe, although that is getting a little high-falutin' for the likes of me!  Profession confession obsession end of session I give up.

To bed!  (Wed fed led head read said stead shed... dead... oh, well... zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... 

September 5, 2013                              Madison, IN

I've never been a fan of late summer.  I associate it with hot heavy dust-laden heat and leaves left ragged by weather and insects.  A season worn and beaten down.

Now, in a couple of cooler days that have allowed for late-morning walks, I have discovered that late summer is not the same animal in Southern Indiana as in other places I have lived.

Maybe it was the sun coming down through the trees more vertically.  Maybe for too long I have failed to notice how the plants have increased, but now even the little narrow strip of woods has become lush to an unprecedented degree in my nontropical experience.

I feel the weight of existence Sartre might have been writing about in Nausea (was that written in the late summer?) everything all real and palpable but not oppressive at all, just simply and abundantly gorgeous.

The lack of a large population of locusts here surprises me - the foliage seems to call for a huge rackety cacaphony of insect courtship to match the visual richness all around.  Are the critters just beginning to appear, to be followed by the masses?  For weeks now, though, I have seen only one here, one there.

Maybe the summer is still younger than I think.  I feel a little chill in the air in the mornings and a little crunch under the sycamores, but the overall effect is a slowly attained perfection that will never collapse under its own superb growth or even autumn winds and thunderstorms.

Snow, right now, is an unthinkable eventuality.

September 3, 2013                               Madison, IN

What's with the Christians?  They already have more faith-based social structures in which to meet each other than any other religion in the good old U.S.A.  Why do they need Christian Mingle?

Ha, ha, maybe their online questionnaires describe their religious beliefs to a T.  Wesleyan Methodists whose ancestors split off from the main group because their concept of heaven included only a vegetarian form of spirituality.  Or Lutherans who split off from other Lutherans because they allowed women the right to equality with men and also believe in baptismal immersion.

Isn't love all you need?  Er, Christian love, that is.

Hey, here's a novel idea.  Go to Church!

Meanwhile, I'm bandying around a potential new Internet website with one hundred times the social potential of all the old, worn-out mating websites.

Mingle Infidel!

It should be a raving success.  No one is as potentially lonely as a grown-up without God.

September 2, 2013                               Madison, IN

I've been shoved off sidewalks by crowds.  I've been forced to brake sharply and forced out of lanes by big semis.

I've even been fast-passed by unexpected bicyclists at night tooling my way home at my usual almost-pedestrian late evening bicycle pace.  Blown by as if I weren't even there.  Good thing I didn't wobble!

Now I read in my favorite mag, The Week, that there is now a solar powered bike-lane-legal vehicle to keep you dry if you encounter the wind-born panting spittle of those of us who don't have (or won't spend) the $5,000 necessary to indulge ourselves in the latest in "commuters' gear."

Oh, goodie!  Now I can add being run off the lane by a maniacal Elf-rider to the dangers of opening car doors and moving vehicles switching from their center drive lanes to their right-turn lanes.

Should be called the "Owl."  I bet those solar engines are just as silent as an owl's flight.

Just call me the bike-lane mouse.

I guess I'm okay, as long as I'm not turned into mouse mousse!

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