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Rumilluminations Feb. 2014
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sat, February 01 2014 - 4:42 pm

February 27, 2014                                         Madison, IN

After I wrote my yesterday fantasy, I read a piece by William Least Heat-Moon in which he reported a real conversation with someone from Toronto, who talked about moving South.  "You're thinking of Florida," he suggested.  Came the answer, "No!  Detroit!"

That is especially amusing because this winter Detroit had its worst winter on record.  That Toronto native must have moved there!

All kidding aside, though, February is almost over and perhaps this year March will be coming in like a snow leopard - or maybe a polar bear.

At any rate, the end of the snow tunnel is in sight for all of us - even Vermonters and Saskatchewans!  (Spell Check said I spelled this wrong.  Saskatchewegians? No?  Well, I'll look up the answer and correct myself before you folks thaw out!

Hmpph.  It seems to me I spelled Saskatchewan correctly.  Maybe you are only designated by Residents of... in which case I beg your pardon.

It turns out that Saskatchewan is the sunniest province.  Now that is a good thing for victims of SAD to know!

February 26, 2014                                         Madison, IN

I sometimes wonder what the Canadian local weather reports are like.  Do they despair and exult when the temperatures are less or more comfortable than normal?

Do Canadians who listen to the weather reports in the U.S. sneer at the wimpiness and whining of the people in the U.S.?  (What do they call us, normally?  Americans?  They are American, too.  U.S. citizens?  Too many syllables.)

When I whine about what we have to experience underfoot here, do they say, "Thank God we know how to work up here in cold country!  Thank God we know how to shovel snow."

Or do they say, "Thank God we know how to navigate in snow" in exactly the same way we say it relative to our far southern states?

Or do they say, "We want to retire to the Western coast of Lake Michigan - give ourselves a break from all this?"

Now, I admit I could research this and find out, and maybe I will.

But wondering is so much fun - mental wandering.

February 25, 2014                                          Madison, IN

Ha, ha.  I can hardly wait to go to some posh restaurant in Arizona and take a polygraph test.  I've always kind of wanted to take a polygraph (to see if I'm lying to myself?(!)) but was sure I would never get a chance, being unwilling to put myself into the relevant criminal context.  (Hmmm... maybe that is why some people admit to crimes they didn't commit; they are obsessed with the idea of the lie detector test.)

What, you might ask, do Arizona restaurants have to do with polygraphs?

Well, how else are the God-fearing owners going to separate the straights from the gays?  I could dress like a gay woman.  (Actually, some might say I've been dressing like that for decades.)  How would the owners know I should really be allowed the privilege of spending my money at their establishment?

What is to prevent a gay person (other than not wanting to patronize a bigot) from passing as a straight?

Would the owner have to personally monitor everyone going in?  Would he have to hire personnel specially trained in expertise in gaydar?

Not to worry.  Arizona is full of old hidebound retirees.  The governor has to be a full decade older than I am.  This and they, too, shall pass.

Arizona is just a spot of desert in the path of the wave of the future.

February 24, 2014                                          Madison, IN

Dang!  I somehow lost a week's worth of "work."  It would have been the whole month's work if my son hadn't rescued what he did.  I'll try to rewrite what I already wrote today (and lost) tomorrow.  Today I just don't have the heart.

Hemingway (or a character of his, but I suspect it happened in real life also) wrote about losing some short stories destroyed by an angry wife.  His anguish was considerable, but he rewrote them and claimed they were BETTER the 2d time around - an inspiration for any writer who has suffered a loss.

My loss is trifling by comparison, but STILL!

February 23, 2014                                          Madison, IN

Ah, second thoughts. What wonderful, horrible things they are.

The other day I saw a Ray Bradbury interview shared by a friend on Facebook, and although he said some things that I didn't exactly agree with, I still shared the interview, said, "Wonderful!" - and parts of the conversation were.

The next morning, however, as I was ruminating about the more negative stuff (at least negative in my view) I was shocked by how much more severe my reaction against part of the interview was.

Alas, I think I hold more with... my second thoughts. Or the emphasis I put on them.  In ways the interview was wonderful. Bradbury says, "Do what you love." Fine so far. But when he says to those who do not love what they do, "I would recommend suicide," I cannot believe my ears. I think it is harsh, but the conversation is so full of good material I share it.

The next morning I don't think the comment is harsh; I think it is crushing.

When Bradbury says "life isn't worth living if you are not doing

something you love" (those words, maybe not quite in that order) he is discounting a huge percentage of us who have, at one time or other in our lives, had to find life worth living even when we found ourselves in a position that was, perhaps for a time, inescapably miserable.

I even, I confess, thought the words "he sounded almost Ayn Randish" about his attitudes and thinking. What kind of charmed life had Bradbury led, that not only could he achieve so much success in his chosen field, but that he could also not realize how lucky he was that what caught him on fire as a creator also
caught his audiences on fire?

Did he really feel so self-determined? Definitely Ayn Randish.

Alas, what is Shared cannot be unshared. What is done is done - and when dealing with Facebook, cannot always be slept on overnight for a more balanced decision.

My second thoughts about second thoughts, though, are wondering whether, if I were smarter, I would figure it all out - the perfect balance of reaction - the first time around, without having to sleep on it overnight. (Or in real life, about a real personal decision, toss and turn on it overnight.)

How, in this brave new world that so values speed, could I compensate for my second-thoughts time-lapse?

I wonder if a twenty minute nap would work.

February 16, 2014 Madison, IN

NW: I played SCRAMBLE today. (Sorry - I had to use an M because I only had one B, but you know what I mean!

NE: I played CRABBLE today. (Of course I mean Scrabble but I'm saving the S for a plural - I saw on a news program you shouldn't give up an S for any increase of points fewer than 8.)

SE: I've been playing SCRBBL (sorry, no A) which has really been a pain because I have been getting NO VOWELS AT ALL.

SW: eeuuuu....

Well, I really did play Scrabble today. It is kind of how I'm getting through February because I can only read so much. I'm actually kind of enjoying it, and believe it or not, I'm not cheating like those guys above! (Really!)

I have to admit though, because they are all me, I don't play a very defensive game. Playing big words rather than small and opening up the board rather than closing it off is, for me, really a win win win win situation.

I'm imagining I'm seeing patterns, though. Does the person who ends first often win? Does the person who starts the game often win?

Or am I just playing favorites?

February 15, 2014 Madison, IN

Just went on a late afternoon walk around Madison. I came home along the river where I had seen some people working in the Bicentennial Park.

They have turned the park into a snow sculpture garden with at least eight or nine creations, including a sunbathing snowlady replete with bikini top and sunglasses, a turtle dyed green and a snowman standing on his head!

I hope someone here takes some pictures!

February 14, 2014 Madison, IN

Happy Hippy
Voluntary Voluptuous

February 13, 2014 Madison, IN

The other day while walking along the river park, I noticed that the BE CURRENT written in driftwood had changed to BE FUCKED.

This kind of public statement interests me. Is the commentator trying to communicate something to someone in particular, or is it just a statement of frustration with the weather, the job situation, poverty in general or a feeling of social entrapment? Or is it an admoniton? Not a statement of subjective feeling but the expression of hostility?

Another strange thing I saw on Main Street a day or so later was a piece of paper affixed to a street sign that said "Go fuck yourself." Well, no mystery about the nature of that message!

What is a mystery is how I find myself reacting to these words.

In a big city I could see a spray painted "Go fuck yourself" without the thought crossing my mind that it could be personal. Is that because I am only in cities as a guest? Maybe, but I don't think so.

Graffiti in cities has almost become institutionalized. It is just there, like the sidewalks and public transportation. I doubt that even those who live in cities take it personally unless its location or message is pointed.

A primitive scrawled message in a small town seems much more personal. I very much doubt the message was intended for me. There are many people who are much more likely than I to take that particular route past that particular street corner.

If other people respond as I do, small-towners are much more likely to do some soul-searching as a result of such a message even if it wasn't intended for them.

What do you think about it? Am I more sensitive than the average small-town citizen? Or, ha-ha, do I feel more guilty?

I know one thing. I much prefer to see pink hearts chalked on the sidewalk - even if they aren't meant for me!

Happy Valentine's Day tomorrow, everyone. Make love!

And may you get fucked, in the best possible sense of the word.

February 9, 2014 Madison, IN

Since today is Sunday and the opportunity to "worship" outdoors is much diminished by the conditions underfoot, I've decided to celebrate the next best thing: cleanliness.

Which means I will do housework that I should be doing on a weekly basis, but don't.

How come we have the word "cleanliness" but we don't have the word "cleanly" except in the sense of a limb (or, alas head) lopped off without messy crushing?

How come we have "dirty" and "dirtiness" but we don't use the word "dirtily" except maybe when we are humorously describing a laugh?

How come we say "I'll be with you shortly" but we never talk about anyone's "shortiness"? In no situation is it appropriate, at least if you want to believe Spell Check. It is the only word I have written so far today that SC has not accepted.

To continue with "short", we describe a person that way when speaking of their manner of speech or their height, and we sometimes talk of their vocal or physical "shortness," but nobody ever uses "shortly" the way we say "portly."

Yeah, well, I'm confusing parts of speech and confusion is neither Godly nor cleanly. I'm communicating confusedly? Does that have something to say about my confuseness - or should I say confusedliness?

Time to get back to the scouring powder!

February 8, 2014 Madison, IN

How many forms does water come in? Let me count the ways:

In liquid drops of tears and torture and life-giving rains and

In liquid ripples and rivulets and waves and big breaking waves and bigger tsunami waves and pulls of undertow

And cleansing streams that we can wash in and miserly streams for diluting good drinks, and buoyant streams that carry boats and waterfalls of drops and torrents and spray

In solid state of snowflakes and hoarfrost and rime and treacherous crusty ice on snow, oh yes! The ice!

Yesterday on my walk down Main Street I encountered people slipping on icy sidewalks even harder to walk on than level ice-skate-worthy ice because it slants and curves and bumps and lumps.

I actually paid attention to the presence of fences, and hovered near just in case what actually looked like bare pavement wasn't!

Picking up and placing each foot vertically in a slow march is the only way to navigate, and even then - well with luck you won't fall.

So I decided, on my way home after my mini-hill trek up around the Hillside Inn on clean driveways, to head toward the river walk. That should be clear, right?

Wrong! The snow-plows had thrown clumps of snow up onto the sidewalk which then melted and froze, melted and froze into what seemed like a rugged hedge with iced snowballs for leaves. You had to walk on that hedge or in the street.

The only walkable part of the river "walk" was the portions that scallop towards the river, where the snowplows' fan of solid-form H2O (sorry, that is the closest I found to a subscript) couldn't reach.

Well, we all know that pedestrians, who are by definition either homeless, too poor to own cars or too drunk to have licenses, cannot compare in rights to the might of the four-wheeled vehicles.

So water can even be a litmus of social responsibility and equality (or lack of it.)

Who woulda thunkit?

Only a brain well-supplied with water!

Which reminds me, I'm in need of the liquid form. (Gee, I didn't even get started on vapors, mists, steams or clouds!)

February 7, 2014 Madison, IN

Spring cleaning, with the passing of coal furnaces, became a little less necessary. Now we have electrical heat in our ceilings (and since we are on the second floor of our apartment building) our floors. No blowing air whatsoever except what comes through the air purifier blows residue onto the walls.

Spring cleaning has lost its meaning.

I have decided to tout winter cleaning. February is a month in which I definitely have to "further my affairs and induce cheerfulness" (thank you Ben Franklin), so I have chosen to spend these sub-freezing days on cleaning and organizing projects.

Sure, I spend part of every day (I shoot for the warmest part) trudging around town looking at the icy walkways instead of, today, the blue skies and sparkling branches. (I was looking in the right direction to see the deer tracks in the snow on the grass between the sidewalks and the streets, though.) The winter's real challenge, though, is to keep moving inside.

Today I did a little bit of this and that, including choosing more stuff for the Salvation Army donation bag that has been sitting around for months now.

My next bit of exercise? I'm girding my loins for the big trek from the bedroom to the living room for an exciting game of scrabble. Boy, winter is sure a bitch!

The only thing worse is summer.

February 5, 2014 Madison, IN

Slate gray, white, brown and black - February in all her glory!

I have been playing Scrabble with myself almost every day (four players - I figure a dissociative Gemini should have at least four personae.)

Some of my stats are pretty good. Yesterday I got 92 points in one turn. I had to utilize a blank, a triple word score, and all seven of my letters to do it. Today I was pretty proud of coming up with the word quondam.

The other day I saw some puzzles for sale. I'm tempted to buy a good one because it would keep me on my feet more which is healthier. But dang it, they aren't as cheap as a game of scrabble.

At least I am looking at wood pieces and a board embellished with pink, blue and red squares instead of February's interminable offerings of shades of no-color.

Come to think of it, how does nature do it? It seems as if all colors reflected or no colors reflected should be a good deal more unusual in nature than more of a variety.

Of course, that comment just shows the limits of my human perception. Maybe the winter show is wanton with ultraviolet and infrared tones and color combinations.

Maybe some creatures have to go dormant in the winter because the color show is just too psychedelically stoned for their super-sensitive visual perception.

February 3, 2014 Madison, IN

Yesterday's simple walk around the Hillside Inn yielded some more surprises - not bonuses.

Someone had spelled out "BE CURRENT" in letters a couple of feet high with pieces of driftwood in the lawn of the river park. Who was the message for? What was its meaning? One of life's little mysteries, and an enjoyable one.

A later surprise was decidedly sad. As I approached the intersection between Second Street and Main (also a highway) I was stunned by the body of a grown deer lying only inches from where I passed.

It was directly beneath a stop sign, between the sidewalk (yes, that was in front of houses) and the street. There was blood pooled in the gutter.

That was late yesterday afternoon. This morning when I went by close to noon, the body was gone. It had lain there during the night's snow, however, because there was green grass in the shape of a deer - head, legs, and tail.

I'm sure that this beautiful animal was one of those living in the hills behind the inn. Now I wonder if they have been frightened off and if I will ever see them again.

February 2, 2014
Madison, IN

Many of us definitely do not want dynasties as part of our political landscape, making so obvious the existence of our republic-replacing oligarchy.

But supposing Jeb Bush, who for some reason has been discouraged by his mother from running for President, got the nomination and Hillary Clinton also got nominated?

This speculation got me thinking. Although I would rather have a Clinton President than any of the Republican possibilities for political reasons, what is in a name, anyway?

I've already played with the name Bush a lot - including the dream interpretation I have read that makes a tree a friend and a bush an enemy (who needs an enemy in the White House?)

Never before, however, have I wondered what the name Clinton means. Looking it up yielded the definition "town on a hill" which definitely makes sense. After all, "ton" means town, I am sure, and Clinton comes from Glynton, an old place name.

So what's in a name? If only on the basis of name meaning, I would definitely prefer someone who lives on a hill (and thus has a more comprehensive perspective on the world) than someone who lives near a thicket (which is where the name Bush comes from.)

Hmmmm... now what does Romney mean?

February 1, 2014 Madison, IN

I have always disliked February. January is named after Janus, the God who can't decide whether to look forward or back, and I can understand that. March is from Mars, the Roman God of war, and I can easily understand getting lazy as the year and summer roll on, making us lower our naming sights to emperors Julius and Augustus.

Later on in the year the light is going away and the namers got discouraged - "Oh what the hell, seven eight nine ten."

Of course, I guess a month (one at least considered an Inter Calendar Month) or two got lost along the way, so naming the months after numbers seems particularly lame.

(What was wrong with Minerva? How come she didn't rate a month? Or were the people who named these declining months afraid of offending the recipients of the "honor?")

You can try to pass over those months descending into winter, but just try not living them! (Okay, people who can afford to toggle back and forth across the equator can succeed at this - the select few.)

Anyway, I was talking about February. I have seen speculation that it might have been named after an Italian ruler, and it seems definitely to have been a month of rites of purification in that country.

That makes sense to me. February tries hard to be a good boy, but he just can't. He keeps falling back into the pit of nastiness, climatically speaking. I don't think April is the cruelest month, I think February is.

Of course, maybe that is just because I am too gullible, willing to believe in good intentions no matter how strong the pull into negative behavior. Others would at least wait until green started leafing out to grow optimistic!

February tries hard to be a good boy. The light is beginning to dawn. The trying thing about this month is that February just can't make a successful break from Plutonian darkness.

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