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Rumilluminations Jan. 2014
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Wed, January 01 2014 - 3:40 pm

January 31, 2014                                             Madison, IN

I did get out again yesterday, but the river's edge was no longer something to crow about.  Somehow twenty-four hours had sullied it significantly; it was downright dirty.

The lacy design in some of the flat edgewater ice was still there, but with more pointy shard elements to the design.

What makes the snow get so dirty so fast?  It doesn't seem as if the winds have been so high as to bear so much dirt.  Maybe it was from the river itself.

This morning, though, I did get a treat.  Looking out the window I saw what looked like branches in front of the water.  I looked more closely, and saw that that swiftly moving river was so smooth it was actually accurately reflecting the opposite snowy naked-treed hills!  You could even see individual houses (white against white snow, with tree-trunk-colored windows) distinguishable from nature in the reflection.

I felt like a kid in a fairytale who sees a divine vision.

There is so much miracle in nature itself, I don't quite understand why we have to impose another deity above it all to explain it.  Is it our way of taking less responsibility for what happens to us, or a technique for imposing more?

At any rate, this is the last day of the first month of the new year, one of the coldest months of my life, and probably one of the coldest of the generation before mine.

Thus endeth January, 2014.

Long live February!   Not.

January 30, 2014
                                             Madison, IN

Later in the day yesterday my almost seven year old friend came by again, and again we walked along the river.

More cold weather bonuses!  In fact, something that a woman who lives in the neighborhood hasn't seen in her eleven-year residence here - big plates of ice (largely broken up by barges, probably) piled along the shore.  The layering of freeze and thaw is clearly visible in some of them, and the planes slanting every which way in the sunlight make a beautiful sight.

At one point along the strip near the landing area, refrozen ice has created a flowery pattern that might photograph well for anyone who has a camera.  It should still be there for a couple more hours, but who knows?

Maybe kids and other trompers have broken it all up by now.  My friend and I had fun throwing rocks and logs as far as we could onto the ice, and even broke some big plates of ice on the cement.  (Hey - it's harmless.  Nobody will be walking along the shore barefoot these days.  Those shards have probably soaked up enough sun to have melted already.

I'll get out a little later and give you an update.

January 29, 2014                                             Madison, IN

This cold nasty weather offers some bonuses. (Boni?)

Last winter there was some sign the Ohio River was getting icy.  A thin skin seemed to be growing in patches along its surface - a duller, more matte finish of pretty much the same shade as the river.  To tell the truth, I wasn't even positive it was ice.

Now there is no doubt.  More of the river has that matte finish, and it is topped by slugs of snow.  That is pretty awesome considering the size and flow of the Ohio River!

Hmmm... maybe that is the only bonus I can think of (besides the hula-skirted trees I described a few weeks ago.)

I'll go down to the river's edge right now and let you know if I can walk out onto the water (joke.)  The other day a little boy and I couldn't even get to the water's edge for the very slick ice along the bank.

Well, I'm back from my walk.  What was a dull slate-grey skin of ice on the river is now a whitish film with much bigger patches of whiter snow.

The real magic is in the air, though.  When you look towards the sun, you see minute sparkles in the air.  I think they are from the small crystals on the leaves and branches of the trees.  I suppose (less romantic thought) the ice could be crystals around specks of dust or pollution from the coal-burning plant's chimneys.  I think they are from the trees, though, because there seemed to be more in the vicinity of trees.

The leaves remaining on the oak trees have fringes of silver and a frosty gloss, and the sweet gum pods are prettier than any Christmas ornaments I have ever seen, their pointy projections extended and ornamented by filaments of crystals.

The weather has bonuses, but I am concerned about the negatives for the vegetation.  Not being an old-timer here, I am wondering about the effects of this cold weather on the giant magnolias, and I am wondering about the fate of even the smaller magnolias in our old home of Valparaiso.

January 28, 2014                                             Madison, IN

I learned something so cool about comic improvisation from Tina Fey's book Bossypants:  Always stay positive and then go from there.  Avoid, at all costs, conversation stoppers.

Gee, I have a funny feeling that is something I should have learned just to get along with other people better in any context.  (Although I never was impressed with the ploy of people who respond to a comment, say, that horses are beautiful animals, with "Yes, and horny toads are even more beautiful!")

That obeys the letter of the basic communication idea but is a conversation stopper, anyway.

Of course, stopping a conversation has its uses for teachers and employers and people who don't like the subject matter or talking in general.

But on a Facebook entry, for instance, talking about a health issue like smoking (interesting that Spell Check made sure I accorded Facebook proper respect by faulting me for not capitalizing it whereas I was according it even more respect by trying to generalize its function to more sites, in the way that the word kleenex can now represent Puffs well forget it.  Evidently Spell Check doesn't recognize Kleenex as a possible generic term, spoken language be hanged!  It recognizes god, though.  Talk about a conversation stopper!)

January 27, 2014                                             Madison, IN

A news commentator on CNN used the phrase "leadership class" today in a matter-of-fact-understood way that left me appalled.

Is the oligarchy that blatant?  I sure never had to listen to that kind of talk when I was growing up.

Unfortunately, we now have a class identified as the folks who rule.  Except there is one thing for sure, they aren't "folks."  The categories of millionaire and political decision-makers overlap, and not many attain higher office these days without big bucks or being hired by big bucks.

Later I was watching to a segment about the threats to the Olympic Games and found myself responding with boredom.

Hmmm..... if boredom is anger (which I believe it is at least in part) why does this subject bore me?

On self-analysis, not a hard question to answer.

Who can afford to go to the Olympic Games?  Who can afford to support Olympic competitors?  Not me or any of my slavish, non-leading, small-living ilk.

"The leadership class" doesn't care about me or my kind, evidently, so neither will I care about them.

Do I want acts of terrorism to happen anywhere?  No, a thousand times, no!  It is hateful behavior.

But do I want to spend my time watching people who are going to be at the Olympics endlessly weighing their risks, worrying, or reassuring others about their worries?

No, again, if only because that time spent means the terrorists have already won.  They have become more important, evidently, than the competition itself.

The larger issue about news programming here from my point of view is, who do these producers think their audience is?  Maybe if their ratings are falling off it is because their "issues" and their advertising are not reaching the people at whom they are aimed.  If I had a huge income I would probably not be sitting around watching CNN soft segments.  I, for one, would be traveling!

It is a little alienating to see programming for/about people who are wealthy almost beyond our imaginations (except with films like "The Wolf of Wall Street" we don't need imaginations).  Even the advertising is an irrelevant peep show for most of us.

Hmmm... I'm beginning to think we have become part of the UK - the aristocracy arising like the phoenix from the ashes of the revolution!

January 26, 2014                                              Madison, IN

It has been decades since I read Machiavelli's The Prince, but there are still elements of his advice even I, who never desired a political career, remember.

One big point Machiavelli makes is that appearances are very important.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the former Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell may be innocent of "crimes", but they sure are guilty of screwing the poodle when it comes to appearances.

The waste of it all really makes me angry.  Suspicion is expensive.  People whose unnecessary greedy and careless behavior waste taxpayers' time (watching the news unfold) and money (taxes spent on investigations, legal fees and court proceedings) which could be spent on a myriad of worthy projects cost us all, in times when we can't afford to be spending our precious tax dollars in this manner.

Have these men (and numerous others) really committed crimes?  In a way I don't really care.  They are costing us big time, which in my mind is a crime in itself.  A crime against ethics, at the very least, and a crime against themselves, as it turns out; they have betrayed not only us, but themselves.

A person can read Machiavelli and find a lot of behavior endorsed that is just plain wrong by most peoples' standards of ethics.  In addition, however, Machiavelli warns against behavior that is just plain stupid.

I wish these guys had read their Machiavelli!

January 24, 2014                                              Madison, IN

What about those of us who never managed a career away from home (in what some would call the "real world")?

Was I, a young woman who didn't know what the hell I wanted to "do," destined to be "a breeder"?

Gick!  What a demeaning term!

Immediately, in my first flush of resentment and escapism on thinking about it, I start to internally fugue.

Breeder, feeder, leader, speeder weeder reader seeder ceder cedar heeder lieder.

Very literal of me, huh?

But what really strikes me when my voice comes back to the main theme, is how female- relationship- home-hating the late sixties really was.

I never really ran across it until I went to college, and I have since read that the more schooling a woman has, the lower her self-esteem.

Or, in the words of a woman I overheard make the statement fifty years ago, "I don't know a woman with a college degree who feels good about herself."

No wonder. 

January 23, 2014                                              Madison, IN

My partner complains that I am literal.  Not only at noon or when it is time to leave the house for an appointment, but also at 2 am, 4 am 3:33 pm, etc.

Well, I guess my literal nature is coming out when the weather reporters say, "This cold is here to stay!"

Not true, here!  It is due to be in the thirties in a very few days!

My partner responds, "They just mean in the area" meaning the Midwestern and Eastern States, I guess.

It still irritates me.  When have you ever heard a meteorologist say, "This gorgeous, balmy high seventies weather is here to stay."?

Never.  So why do they make these dumb depressing statements about cold?

If there is anything you can count on not to stay around forever, it is the weather - whatever it is right any old now.

Having said this, though, this winter has made me rethink my minimum walk definition.

It used to be the library, about half a mile away.  When it gets down into the high teens, I think maybe the post office three blocks away.

Today, which is supposed to stay below 10 degrees until the middle of the afternoon, I'm thinking - maybe the mailbox downstairs.

January 21, 2014                                              Madison, IN

Religion is for legions, city states and tribes.  Diatribe is tribal dialogue.

Nations deserve delegations and, to the extent that they want freedom, deculturalization.  (Spell check says that isn't a word - I say it is!  (Dehumanization - (testing, testing.)))

I'm sick of people saying the U.S. has no culture!  We have a culture.  It involves freedom and the idea of live-and-let-live above all.  It offers the hope of lightheartedness and laughter and even abundance.  (That last is in danger of disappearing because of income and resource inequality, but hope hasn't gone yet.)

To hell with religious fervor if it involves the ties that bind - everybody else!  Who needs fanaticism?  The kind of people that want other people to become suicide bombers.

What even most outspoken discontent American would trade existences with a war-torn tribal society?  One that spurns contemporary life but depends on it for economic survival?

Cultural purists, shut up already.  You are the ones that are corrupt and hypocritical.  You are the ones that are holding us back from peace and freedom.  Even "my nation, right or wrong" trumps "my religion, always right" in sanity and large-mindedness.

Hmmm... I'm ranting.  Does that mean I'm being tribal?  Oh, well.  Old habits die hard.  Must be my religious upbringing!

January 20, 2014                                              Madison, IN

Inviting me to wine and dine?  Dang, I can't!
I can whine and dine, though!

Or should I say, inviting me to wet my whistle and whet my appetite?  Or whet my whistle (carve it myself out of willow?) and wet my appetite (put me on a liquid diet?  or dampen it?)

Do you want to while away the time - or wile it away thinking up mischief?

If a family member says she feels wistful do you think she wants to play a game?

If someone invites you to a whale of a good time, do you think of sea creatures or a corduroy factory?

(Does corduroy come from Wales?  Not, I think, from whales!)

It seems to me I have heard woosh used interchangeably with whoosh - but Spell Check informs me only one is correct.  "Do you know which?" I ask.

"Which witch?" you might respond.

Every once in a while I catch myself saying "wh" instead of "w" or vice versa.  A victimless crime, I might say, especially since I am pretty sure no one even notices but me.

January 18, 2014                                              Madison, IN

Interesting to hear the Governor of New Jersey say he was born there, he raised a family there, and he wants to spend the rest of his life there.

I can respect that, but I can't understand it.  Maybe I could if I hadn't been hauled off to California as a child and then hauled back again three years later.

Leaving home didn't bother me so much at three or four years of age.  Moving back to Valparaiso in time for third grade was another matter.  I missed a classmate or two.  I missed the mountains on the horizon.  And I really missed the neighborhood with a ton of children!  I have, all my life, had an occasional  hankering to return there.

When I went to graduate school in New Mexico I had a completely different world to which I made the mistake of introducing my new husband.  Mistake, however, only because we were planning to move to Oregon!

He loved New Mexico so much we stayed for decades, and he resides there still.

My present partner and I are now in Madison, Indiana.  What would it take (other than untimely misfortune) for us to call this our final home?

Being within walking distance of possible deer and fox and heron sightings is a big plus.  So is the Ohio River.  I have become attached to its deceptive direction of flow and its traffic.  Watching tows going by at night or in the mist is especially magical.

I'm not sure I could move away once again, leaving behind the fountain, the old houses, the book club people.

Why, I'd even have trouble moving away from my cool doctor!  

January 17, 2014                                           Madison, IN

Usually I write in the a.m. while my mate is in the shower.  Today, though, I decided to surprise him.  While he soaked up heat and steam, I went outside in the twenty-something weather and brushed snow off the car with a mop and scraped the windows.  Then I turned it around so the windshield faced south to finish the job.

He is my hero because he works five days a week to help support us.

Not only do I enjoy spending some time out in the snow and cold, but I want to be a hero, too!

January 16, 2014                                           Madison, IN

I don't understand people who don't think movies and TV influence people.  Of course they do.

And a lot of people think literature doesn't influence people in the same manner in which movies do.  Of course it does - and did, I'm sure, from the time of the very first novels.

When I think about past centuries and those who might have disapproved of novels, I wonder about their pastimes.

Music, for instance.  Plato thought it ought to be controlled, so much influence and passion could it arouse.

Storytelling.  I bet the most popular storytellers were a bit outrageous, or at least highly dramatic.

All these things are distractions.  Whether you approve of them or not, they are necessary to the human psyche to get through the long winters and the laborious summers and the boredom and what Sartre calls the hell of other people.

On the way to distracting us, of course, they are bound to influence us - for better or worse.  Like intoxicating agents (some of the biggest distractions!) they are not going away anytime soon.

January 15, 2014                                           Madison, IN

I remember reading decades ago that a woman over forty has trouble integrating into a new community.  That idea was probably written decades if not centuries before.

Every time I move, though, I wonder what the new truth is about either sex moving into a new community - and what is really meant by integration into that community.

The examples I have seen of women in their seventies moving into a community solely because one or more offspring is there have not been inspiring.  (Come to think of it, that "examples" might only have been a sample of one - heh.)

Still, I'm sure I have read about it also.  I haven't really seen the sign of this in my own life... exactly.

It depends on what you want out of your community, I guess.  Give me a good book club and a good assortment of folks to chat idly with while on a walk and I am probably happy - most of the time.

Having a few people willing to invite you over their thresholds, if only to pass the day for a minute, helps.

A few community events and opportunities to volunteer in some worthy cause help also.  Come to think of it, I need to get in touch with the folks at the Heritage Trail Conservancy!  I ran into Bob Greene and Adam Tuttle last week doing a little grooming of the wildlife area along the river.

Some outdoor volunteer work would be great.

January 14, 2014                                           Madison, IN

Talk about illusory promises!  The past few days have been so Springlike that during the sunniest and warmest of them, I kept having to remind myself that Spring wasn't really coming quite yet.

I love these rare glorious sunny warm days in January, which I never remember experiencing before I moved to New Mexico.  If they happened in the Midwest when I was growing up I must have been in school during the day and missed them.  Honestly, though, I think they happened but rarely.

Now, along with the Spring runoff, what pollution from the Elk River in West Virginia is coming down the Ohio River towards us?

Everywhere I have lived I have eventually learned where the town water supply comes from.  I've been here in Madison for less than two years, though, and it's a mystery to me.

Does the water come from wells or from the Ohio River?  I suspect that there are sources other than river water.  Certainly the pollution of the Ohio has been an issue before this.

'Bye!  Gotta do some research.

Ah, good news.  Madison's water supply comes from a "deep sandstone aquifer" supplied by water that falls in the form of rain or snow from Dane County.  Sounds as if we might get by unscathed except perhaps by possible licorice fumes from the river.

Hint: If you are curious about your local water supply, maybe the best way to search it is by using the words "water company" instead of "water supply" for your city.  Not having the right buzz words took me on a couple of byways that, while interesting, didn't give me the information I wanted.

Hopefully the chemical polluting the Elk and Ohio Rivers won't be too physically toxic to humans or the wildlife in and along the water.  The social consequences have been toxic enough!

January 13, 2014                                            Madison, IN

When I took paralegal studies, I learned about a charming concept called, "the illusory promise."  It is a promise made that involves no action from the person to whom the promise is made, which means there is no contract, formal or informal.

In other words, the person making the "promise" is not legally obliged to keep it.  In my opinion this is a good thing, because in my own life the word "maybe" has been twisted into "I will" more than once.  In literature I have seen people's words about what they intend in the future for their own lives (which nobody can predict 100 per cent) held against them as a "promise."

On the whole, I rather enjoy illusory promises.  They are mostly optimistic and hopeful; they just have to be taken with a grain of sea salt.

On the other hand, you have curses and predictions of bad luck.  "A pox be on you" and threats of bad luck if you fail to pass on a chain letter or share a Facebook entry.  You have seven years of bad luck if you break a mirror.

I like to call these "empty threats" - the opposite of illusory promises.  But while I have no trouble accepting (with all its danger of disappointment) an illusory promise, I do not feel the same way at all about empty threats.

I hate them.  I hate their coercive elements and their doomy predictions.  They drive me to analysis and criticism:  "Now, is the sentence of nine years' bad luck I have just incurred going to run consecutively or concurrently with the seven years' bad luck I got by breaking that big mirror last year?  Or do I get more than seven years for a large mirror?  If the illusory sentences run concurrently, does that then mean I have double bad luck for six years?  If consecutively, then I might as well die right now, because the curses upon me will effectively last the rest of my life."

The fact that I didn't break a limb or die twenty years ago when I didn't carry on that illegal chain money thing kind of makes me doubt empty threats.

In fact, I might not believe them at all, except then what am I to do with illusory promises?  Not believe in them, either?

Well, I'm getting there.

Here's an illusory promise for you:  I guarantee I will get very silly come Spring.

Hmmm... I just realize empty threats could also be considered illusory promises.  Duh...  um.... 

January 11, 2014                                              Madison, IN

Yesterday afternoon I was in the laundry room doing some unusually late loads.  Three, as a matter of fact.  The same number as our washers and dryers.

I put my four quarters into one of the dryers and - like magic! - nothing happened.

I almost reached for my cell phone as for a gun, poised to call my landlord about the problem with the dryer.  Then I remembered I didn't have it.

Maybe I hadn't put all four quarters in.  The price had recently changed from only three.  Risking the loss of yet more money, I gently put a quarter in each individual slot and pushed.  Nothing happened, for good or evil.

We recently bought a burr grinder for our coffee, and every morning I pat it practically the whole time it is grinding to keep the beans moving through.  My behavior pattern has been set!

I reverted to brute force with the recalcitrant dryer.  I whapped the coin mechanism from the right and from the left.  I gave it two or three sharp raps from each direction.  Then I pushed the start button.

It worked!  The dryer started, saving me from a special stairs workout and a phone call to my landlord - and saving him from a phone call from me.

Makes me wonder if cell phones render us more dependent.  With help so seemingly close, we aren't forced to confront problems by ourselves.  I feel empowered by my independence!

Still, of the three dryers, that one will always be my last choice.

January 10, 2014
                                            Madison, IN

Wow!  Yesterday was a red-letter hiking day.  I walked down the Heritage Trail from the top (where my partner works).  When I entered the trail I peered around, looking hard for deer where I had seen them in the past.  Nothing.  Oh, well, it was late in the morning.

Coming towards the meadow by the semicircular cliff face, though, I saw a deer grazing.  I tried not to slow down too much (trying to keep the aerobics going) but stayed on the left-hand side of the trail so as not to alarm her.

All of a sudden from very close by on my left side, formerly hidden by the cliff, another deer trotted out.  She hung around on the left side of the trail ahead of me for a while, then decided to join her companion.  I kept to the left hand of the curve of the trail.

They watched me and I talked a little baby-talk to them in a soothing voice as I passed by.  They didn't run!  Looking back a few steps beyond them, one was already grazing, the other looking 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

A little downhill from the meadow several species of birds were messing around, singing, calling and chirping.  I had worried about wildlife before the cold spell; this was evidence that many individuals had survived.  (I'm not sure I should be surprised.  During the height of cold, wind and snow I saw two birds wheeling and flying near the riverbank.)

Almost to the bridge I heard a loud crack?  Gunshot?  No, not quite harsh enough.  A branch fell from a tree twenty feet from the trail.

Walking along the river on my way home, I glanced at the river and saw the trees at the edge, wearing skirts!  Double take.  Really, the trees had skirts of icicles.  Like tutus, or closer yet, grass hula skirts.

I've never seen anything like them.  Some of them were 18 inches long, or more!  A once-in-a-lifetime sighting, for me.

January 9, 2014                                       Madison, IN

Rodman apologized.  Okay.  Let's move on.

Typing has a rhythm of its own.  Remember typing class in high school when the goal seemed to be to have every stroke take the same amount of time?  (Or is keyboard training now in junior high or kindergarten or preschool - or is everyone presently so keyboard-oriented each finds his own fingering from

When I was in high school typing the goal seemed a rhythmic regular plunk plunk plunk plunk.  Maybe that mind set was just the result of my musical training.  If so, no wonder I was slow!

Maybe now the distances between all the symbols on little tiny phones are so small that each stroke does take more or less the same time.  But not on the old more resistant keys of a typewriter.  Not even on this computer.

Someone who has been typing for a long time doesn't take the same time for each stroke.  Some letters are a little more difficult to access, and of course writing straight onto the screen makes mental indecision more influential.

Once you have typed something often enough, like your name, you just whip it right out.  Or on. 

Madison, IN is especially fun to type.  ka-Tum tiddley  tum-tum  ka-tum daDUM DUM!

I can rip that off in no time now.

Madison itself, of course, is a lot more difficult to type.

I go on walks on Heritage Trail, up the old Hatcher Hill Road, and the driveways of the Hillside Inn, all of which involve climbs (or even steps, if I want to arrive at the Inn the literally pedestrian way.)

Do people notice what I am doing?  Is there a lot of communication going on around town about the newbies among them? 

Do I already have a reputation for fearing dogs because I eye them warily, step off the curb or even cross the street (depending on its size) even when the dog is on a leash?

When I walk up the driveway behind the hotel, do people speculate about illicit assignations (ha! at this point my whole life is an illicit assignation!) or are they, like city folk, mainly unconcerned with other people's business?

It's Madison's illusions I recall, I really don't know this town at all!

Tum tiddley tum tum   DUM DUM!

January 8, 2014                                       Madison, IN

"...and me, I said, 'But I'm just thirteen!'"  - Barry Polisar

Sounds to me as if Dennis Rodman and some of the talking heads commenting on the North Korean dictator's "youth" must have dyslexia.

Thirty-one is not "so young!"

Give this human-rights violating perpetrator his horrible upbringing, give him "affluenza" (which Rodman has obviously caught, by the way) give him the corruption of absolute power (and Absolut Vodka, for all I know) but don't give him the excuse of excessive youth.

"...and me, I said, 'But I'm just thirty-one!'" just doesn't scan.

January 7, 2014                                    Madison, IN

Well, Dennis Rodman has finally gone completely over the edge.  Far from having a beneficent influence on his little dictator friend, he has all the signs of becoming a little dictator himself!

Did you notice the fashion-nod to epaulets on the suit he was wearing during his interview with Chris Cuomo?

The guy is in denial.  The proximity to absolute power has given him a contact high.

He was embarrassing his teammates.  Even they can see he was trying to use them as human shields.

Too bad our possible door for extra-political influence turned into a swing door!

January 6, 2014                                    Madison, IN

Yay, Epiphany!

What is Epiphany's magic?  The wealthy magi coming on camels bearing gifts?

The magic, for me, of being able to send holiday cards late as long as they were about those three wise men and arrived in time for Epiphany?

Somehow I have always associated the word epiphany with the word eureka and they do have similar "I've got it!" connotations.

E-words are special.  After all, there is no E in the grading scale.  The lowest grade is not E but F.

Fie on failure and frustration and fear!

I esteem euphoria and elegance and elevation and ecstasy, eureka and epiphany and exclamations!


January 5, 2014                                    Madison, IN

Reading Waverly by Sir Walter Scott the other night (yeah, part of my Kindle Klassics reading, heh) I was struck by language which made me wonder if the Highland tartans weren't partly adopted for the purpose of camouflage.

Ha, ha.  Amidst all the archaic language in Waverly's glossary (for the verbal edification of those reading in the neighboring English-speaking countries sixty years after the times depicted) I found an occasional word that is still in use in the U.S. today.

It is comical to me that the idea of the use of camo as everyday fashion might also be ancient, although wearing forest camouflage in the city is obviously not practical.

It made me think a little, though.  Language has changed so much in the last couple of centuries.  I read Ivanhoe as a girl, and do not remember being so struck by as much Latin and French text as I see in Waverly.  Maybe Ivanhoe contains less of that kind of inclusion - I'll find out when I reread it.

Perhaps the words we use to describe the world have changed more than we realize, and perhaps our basic survival techniques have changed a lot less.

Technology notwithstanding.  Kind of makes you think about the root of the syllable "tech", huh?

Oh, well.  Another time.

January 4, 2014                                    Madison, IN

I am making a different kind of resolution this year.

Instead of saying, "I am going to do say, a project," I am saying, "I am going to resolve a problem or an issue."

I figure this should be relatively painless, since our responses to so many matters that cause us grief are unnecessary.  As the I Ching says, "You are oppressed by what ought not to oppress you."

Or, in my case, I am.

Another kind of resolution I am going to experience is the marriage of my seemingly disparate desires.  They are not incompatible!  They can work in synergy!

I must hasten to admit that I don't have any such resolution at the tip of my tongue to share with you.  I have no handy dandy examples.

But I know I have conflicts and yearnings.  Sometimes I am discontent with my circumstances.  How will I resolve these issues?

I don't know.  I'll let my subconscious, that genius of integration, work it all out.

Now that's a resolution I can celebrate!

January 3, 2014
                                     Madison, IN

Scattershot Friendship should be the name of Facebook.

On the rare occasions I actually put something on my status bar (is that what it's called?) I don't know if anyone, or more than one or two people, ever read it.

Some of my FB friends are frequent contributors, and I feel I know them - the way one feels one knows actors.  I'm sure they do not feel they know me, except by my shares, which for all I know they have largely blocked.

Facebook friends have enlarged my life.  Their various interests and concerns have given me information I might not otherwise have gotten - information that I am too lazy to regularly visit specialized websites to get.

I'm afraid, however, that the friendships are one-sided.  I know more about them than they know about me.  Those with many friends must either faithfully monitor their newsfeed to get all the messages, or like me come on or off as I more or less feel like doing.  Some friend.

It makes me appreciate the specificity of my friendships for which I have real addresses to send real letters.  When I send such a message it reaches that person alone.  I love it when I receive such attention.

Which reminds me - I bet today's mail is here!

January 2, 2014                                     Madison, IN

"Bread is the staff of life."

We've all heard the expression, but what does it really mean?

When I was a child, I took the meaning that "bread" (for us, literally that wheat loaf) was necessary for life - was the nutritional building block that our lives were based on.

Why did I get that idea?  Literally, a staff is something like a walking stick or a shepherd's crook.

In my life, a staff is not essential at all.  In fact, I would consider a staff as something only used as an occasional mountain-climbing toy or a prop for the mildly decrepit.

So, by the real definition of the phrase, bread could be interpreted as something that you might have to fall back on.  Something that is there when nothing else yummier like nuts or berries or meat is available.

During the biblical times, "bread" was just whatever was staple in the area - your boring everyday starchy food that helped bulk up your meals.

Nowadays people seem to think wheat bread is necessary for survival.  They are aghast contemplating life without toast or bagels or sandwiches.

But as with so many other luxuries turned into necessities  turned into poisons, wheat has turned out to be a factor that contributes to the "staff" becoming a permanent and essential part of your life, instead of a temporary crutch or aid.

Now, that's ironic.  Like a HurryCane.

January 1, 2014                                     Madison, IN

If we say, doggone it, how come we don't say goddone it?

If God is within me, as the Quakers say, God sure isn't omniscient, let alone omnipotent (ha, ha I almost said impotent - talk about all or nothing.)

I have, actually, often said that I believed that God is within us.  I always make a point of saying "us."

Maybe that is a copout, but it seems to silence the questions, even if it doesn't satisfy the questioner.

Why would anybody be interested in my opinion about God, anyway?  Very few people seem interested in my opinion about lesser gods or goddesses such as, say, George Clooney or Beyonce.  (I was going to say Brittany Spears, but how does she spell her name, anyway?  Has she really spawned so many namesakes with such diversely spelled names?  And if so, what does that say about her following?)

I mean, if my opinion about humbler beings is of no interest, why would my opinion about God be interesting?  Is it some sort of "which side are you on" moment?

Merry 7th day of Christmas and Happy New Year!

May you have a year full of beneficently interesting occasions and noteworthy achievements!

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