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Rumilluminations -July 2014
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Tue, July 01 2014 - 4:48 pm

July 31, 2014
                                              Madison, IN

Reading Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children I came across the word "tergiversation."

Well, that was new to me and (I see now) to Spell Check, too.

Since my partner was at the computer, I headed first for the pocket dictionary, even though I was pretty sure I wouldn't find tergiversation.  I didn't, no surprise.

So I went to the monster Random House unabridged dictionary that my parents have had since 1967.  I was sure it would be there.  It was.

What a shock!  It turns out I have been tergiversating all my life and didn't even know it!  Imagine that!

Started me wondering.  Is it a word lots of people know and just never bothered to use around me, figuring I wouldn't know what it meant?  How patronizing (if accurate.)

Or do they not know the word, either?

Should my mother have been saying all her adult life, "I'm tergiverating"  (in its second meaning) instead of "I'm ornery?"

I've decided not.  She was only emotionally tergiverating, not acting out.

I could tergiversate all day about these things.

Of course, if you know all about this word, you know exactly what I am talking about.  Otherwise, you'll have to look it up.  At least you are already at your computer.

I hope I can assume we can find tergiversate in an on-line dictionary.   Of course, now I will have to check to see.

At any rate, I'm sure you already knew that Spell Check doesn't know everything!

Just looked up tergiversate online and the Oxford Dictionary has a slightly different definition for the word - more like equivocate than flipflop (which Spell Check won't acknowledge, either).  The second or so result of my search, though, was from Random House and identical to their definition almost fifty years ago.

Ironic that I have to learn English from a foreign-born writer educated at Cambridge!

I think this word might even pack more wallop than Mary Poppin's superhydrocalifragicexpealidotious damn Spell Check I am not going to look that up! 

I am going to have to start using tergiversation around my more educated acquaintances, though, and see if they take it in stride or drop their teeth!

July 30, 2014                                            Madison, IN

Can you dismiss a missile?

If it is supposed to hit something, why is it called a missile?

I had a teacher once who said she was called "miss" because she had missed?

Is that true?  Then why is a Mrs. called a misses?  Because she is habitually missing?  (That does not say much for marriage, in whatever sense you want to take the phrase.)

Why is a Mr. a mister?  Does he enliven the air?  Does he create obfuscation?  Did it originally come from the idea that he is a gentleman and habitually misses while hunting?

Or did it come from master and miss the correct spelling?

Do people who live in Mississippi miss Issippi?

Is life too sweet in Missouri?

Is failure implied in the label of a mission?

Funny - I never heard anyone say they "misfailed" because they succeeded!

July 29, 2014                                            Madison, IN

I can't believe it.  Our telephone bill, internet/cable service bill, and rent all went up in the same month!  At least we got word of all three increases this week.

I have never had a landlord raise the rent after I have lived in a place for only two years before, but I get the impression that the rents had not gone up for a long time.

My teeny cost of living increase of social security payments for the whole year doesn't add up to the $50.00 per month these increases will cost us.

Is this typical?  Has this ever happened to you?

Hmph.  The rent has gone up $25.00 per month.  Just enough to make it not worth it to move.


July 28, 2014                                             Madison, IN

After two years living in Madison we finally made it to Big Oak Federal Wildlife Preserve, just five miles north of here.

It was just an exploratory visit - no picnic or special timing for watching wildlife, which is a good thing, since a twenty minute film is required viewing on your first visit every year.  The wildlife preserve is on what used to be a proving ground for weapons and there is still the very off chance that you might see some old ordinance around. (You are admonished not to touch any metal objects you might run across.)

Between filling out the required forms and driving around from office to the major public use area, this is not quite the quick jaunt you could make from here to, say, Clifty Falls State Park.  Then again, it is much larger, with special areas marked out for specific use. 

We were well rewarded for our time.  We saw two turkey families and a beautiful young stag.  Big Tree Lake has a very irregular shore with charming inlets.  The lake has roads nearby in some places, but most access roads seem to approach the water at right angles, giving the wildlife easy covered access from wooded areas.

The wildflowers were spectacular, also.  Brilliant orange butterfly weed and dark butterflies with blue spots were a combo we saw more than once, and a showy five-petaled pink flower that was new to me was common.  I'll have to see it again to identify it, but I think it was one of the pinks in the gentian family.

We won't wait another two years for a return trip!

July 27, 2014
                                             Madison, IN

This morning, down in the laundry room, a new neighbor in the building and I were not getting in each others way at all.  I said, "Do you need more than one dryer?"  "No."  "Then it's just perfect" said I.

Oh, no!  I said the P-word.

The F-words must be around, I thought.  Just like we learned in Latin class, but it's probably not the F-word you are thinking about.  The other F-words are - no, I will not tempt them into paying attention to me.

As soon as I said the P-word, it rained on me (hard!) when I had to run back to put a towel or two into one of the washers to make the load not quite so scant.  I remembered to put the quarters in the  dryers, but forgot to push the start button on one of them. Even after I prepped it correctly my still-scant load failed to get even close to dry!  Of course I didn't have enough quarters to run it again.

Now I'm not really complaining about the hardship of my life.  I have a pretty easy life.  So what if I had to make eight trips down (and up) three flights of stairs to accomplish something that usually takes three trips.  No big deal.  After all, I had all day.

No, I am not complaining.  I'm just saying it's not only children and dogs you have to spell around.  It's not just up-tight adults and fundamentalist Christians - who probably wouldn't be happy with an edited version of your expletives anyway.

And not all words are dangerous because they are obscene four-letter ones.

I'm just saying.  If you like to be H-word (does not stand for Hell) and for everything to be P-word (it does not contain four letters) just don't tempt the F-words.

At least not the ones you're thinking of.

July 26, 2014                                            Madison, IN

Woe is me!

Moses' inner voices gave him the ten commandments (even if he did project them onto God.)

Jesus' and Joan's voices got them serious trouble, certainly, but also gave them fame and followers, not to mention God- and saint-hood.

St. Paul - the one I love to hate - was ordered to love the ones he had hated before, and it changed his life.

What do my imperative, not-to-be-ignored (just argued interminably argued with) inner voices command me to do?

"Wash the dishes!  Vacuum the floor!"

Yea, inspiration.

July 25, 2014                                            Madison, IN

I have heard some people say that people are coming into the States from Mexico and Central America just to improve their standard of life rather than to escape a life-and-death situation.

I accepted this as at least partly true at the time; I may have even mentioned it on my website.  Of course it probably is partly true.

I have, however, come to view the flow of people across borders as a physical reality similar to the flow of water across a permeable membrane:  the water will automatically flow to the side of the membrane with the higher concentration of sugar or salt.  The higher the energy of the particle, the more likely it is to move across the membrane.

The tide of people flooding into this nation to sweeten or save their lives is as inevitable as a tide of refugees trying to escape war, and not any more culpable.

Mr. President, tear this wall down.

July 24, 2014                                            Madison, IN

The other day one of our neighbors was watching the bright yellow clad women from the prison doing their yard work jobs at the park.  He said, "I was just thinking... Which would I rather be, doing what they are doing or be homeless?"

An interesting question.  Of course my immediate response was, "Homeless!"

Maybe not, though.  Homelessness is supposed to be fatal for the female sex - at least in the late seventies when I asked a policeman on the Santa Fe plaza why you didn't see female "bums."  (I did not know the fine distinctions made between varieties of the homeless in those days.)  He answered, "Because they don't survive."

As far as prison life is concerned, I remember that some young people working at the same pediatrics clinic as I told me about playing Monopoly with an added rule:  if you land on the "Go to Jail" square you have to chug a shot of alcohol.  I responded, "That is terrible!"  They responded by laughing, enjoying my shock.

Oh, if I had had my wits about me, I would have given a different response.  I should have said, "No, you have the order wrong.  It should be, you chug shots and then you go to jail."

Since those Santa Fe days, nearby Albuquerque has (with some reason, I am sure) become even more notorious than Beavis and Butthead made it due to Breaking Bad, and from what I hear most of the women I see mowing and weed-whacking and trash-collecting were involved with crystal meth.

What I'm wondering is, does that addiction leave you with enough mind and energy to play Monopoly?

July 21, 2014                                            Madison, IN

Yesterday we had an interesting hike.  A grayish mammal crossed the railroad tracks (our choice of route for the day).  I voted gray fox.  Jos votes coyote.  In trying to decide after our return home, we looked on the Internet and discovered gray foxes not only can climb trees but they can nest in them!  I'll never look up in the woods quite so blithely again.

Coming back on the Heritage Trail I saw a good-sized young buck with two points on each fuzzy antler.  We exchanged a long look before he bounded away.

Finally, in the newly managed (and with a somewhat heavy hand, I must say) area of the trail, including a wide dirt "path" we saw a dead three-foot fish with a very pointed jaw.  On arriving home we looked it up, also, and discovered it was a gar.  Long-nosed?  Spotted?  It definitely had spots.  They are supposed to be edible, so why it was lying discarded with its eye-sockets crawling with maggots I do not know.

Maybe for a biology lesson.  I must confess, now that I think about it once more, I would not want to eat a fish taken from that river!

July 19, 2014                                            Madison, IN

The Universe is God.  Is it still Love?

Whether It loves us or not, we damn well better love It!

July 17, 2014                                            Madison, IN

How come we have the words moral, amoral and immoral but we don't have all three words when it comes to personality?  (I'm making a joke, obviously, since personality has come much farther from "personal" than morality ever wandered from "moral".)

We have the word personal and we have the word impersonal.  Some people feel that they are being treated rudely, though, when they are being treated impersonally.  If the form of the word parallels the forms of the words with the root "moral" they would be correct.

But shouldn't we have the word "apersonal?"  That wouldn't mean against personability - or would it be even stronger than "impersonal" in its alienation?

And why is an impersonation called that?  Is it the impersonation of one's self so you can put on another self?  It certainly does not really impersonate (in the sense of not being personal) the other person.  Except, of course, it isn't personal - it's just entertainment.

Oh, I am so confused - personally!

And what about provident and improvident?  Whatever happened to poor "aprovident?"  Never invented, yet surely many of the seemingly improvident are merely really aprovident.

And what about words like "imbecile?"  Has anyone ever met anyone with becile or abecile behavior?  Or "a becile," for that matter.

How on earth did the word "intuition" fall so far distant from the word "tuition"?  Or did, in the sense of money paid for tuition, the parent travel the greater distance?  I had, before I thought about it, absolutely atuition about that!

July 16, 2014                                            Madison, IN

The only trouble with destabilization of the psyche (and I am, being a layman, really using these terms sloppily, no doubt) is that the new integration, to be healthy, must be helpful both to the individual and to the individual's society (assuming that the person's society is healthy - ha ha not a safe assumption.  As from person to person, dysfunction from one culture to another is relative.)

Religion is no guarantee of what would be, to me, a helpful personal restabilization.  What if the person remakes his thinking to follow a charismatic leader blindly?  That may be stability, but it would hardly seem ideal - except to such a leader and his followers.

The thing about psychological counseling (and one that is often a source of frustration to a patient, who just wants HELP) is that it makes the patient do the hard work of deciding what is meaningful to her.  We fight that hard work tooth and nail sometimes.

The trouble is, by fighting that work we are fighting our own spiritual development.

Clifford Anderson reports (according to my partner) that he spent hours free-associating.  Presumably this helped him understand and integrate his psyche.

I don't know.  When I see a word starting with tw I think of Twinkies and twiddle.  When I think of "freedom" I think of "fleadom."  When I think of angel I think of dangle.  Bauble elicits appendix. 

I think maybe I'm not serious enough to self-administer free association.  For me it must remain expensive!

July 15, 2014
                                            Madison, IN

My partner is reading The Stages of Life by Clifford Anderson (which I read and have written about in the past) and was very impressed by his description of "free association."

He read it to me, and I felt that I'd never heard it before:  basically, free association destabilizes your consciousness in a way that allows you to change the way you think about things and restabilize it into a more helpful state of mind.

Many, if not all of us know about free association as an analytical tool.  Somehow, though, I didn't "get" that it was also a therapeutic tool.  (Even though I read the book twice??? Scary.)

(Perhaps by free association!) I thought about a George Bernard Shaw comment in which he threw away happiness as a goal by saying, "You can buy happiness for the price of a pint."

Re my comments about Revelations, I said, "Maybe that is my problem with mysticism.  Visions can be bought by fasting or sleep deprivation.  They don't necessarily have any real meaning and aren't necessarily worth much."

My partner responded, "Perhaps, like free association, they destabilize the consciousness so that you can arrive at a different (hopefully more helpful) level of consciousness."

I think that was a really brilliant insight.

July 13, 2014                                           Madison, IN

Today I was talking to an acquaintance about computerized job application processes prevalent today.

"It's not the same ball park.  Did I say ball game?  It's not the same ball game.  It's not a ball game at all!"

Back home in the apartment I found myself muttering, "It's a ball and chain game."

Who would really want to play?

July 12, 2014                                           Madison, IN

What's in a name?

Yesterday evening a neighbor quoted Revelations to me.  I couldn't believe my ears.  What?

"That," I said in response, "is the most terrible book in the Bible."

"No, no" she and another neighbor said.  "It's great!"

So Revelations has revealed something to me:  the power of a name.

Everyone keeps trying to find some meaning in that collage of nonsense that is simply not there to find.  The promise is there in the name, so people keep searching for meaning.

Given our human powers of projection, we are capable of thinking we have found something in anything with pretentions to spirituality.

I don't get it.  People who poke around in Revelations are often the same people to whom books like The Signal and the Noise and The Frackers are of no interest - worth a shrug.

If one percent of the people who poke around (or should I say "muck around") in Revelations would study a little science what a change would be wrought in our society!

I bet Revelations was put at the end of the Bible by church fathers in the hopes that nobody would read that far.  I sure don't remember any of my pastors quoting Revelations in a sermon.  I bet the Council of Nicea didn't relegate it to the Apocrypha because, like the Emperor with No Clothes, they didn't want to reveal that they couldn't "see" it - that it held no revelations for them. 

Maybe the people who read it are the same people who like to read the ends of novels first.

Don't want to dirty themselves with the day-to-day slog through the facts of the daily experience.

The value of Revelations to many people must lie in its incomprehensibility - but it's a cheap thrill.

July 11, 2014                                           Madison, IN

Decades ago I heard that you could get a ticket for impeding the flow of traffic - even if you aren't going below the speed limit.

Last week, here in Indiana, they have now passed a specific law that if you don't get out of the left lane when someone wants to go faster than you, you can get a ticket.

Why should I be forced out of the left lane into the right lane, possibly regardless of the driving conditions in the right lane (like to be stuck between two huge trucks?)  Why are laws being passed to give big speeding bullies their way?

What about tail-gating?  How about laws making it illegal to tail-gate?

Oh, is it illegal already?

Then how come I have never had a tail-gater pulled out from the exhaust pipe of my car?

Never!  And tail-gating is one of the most dangerous practices on the road.

July 8, 2014                                             Madison, IN

The next cosmetic invention:  a pill or injection that will dye your hair, fingernails and/or toenails a color of your choice with some dye that will bond only with very specific tissue.  But maybe it wouldn't hurt to be pinker all over!

Can't be any more invasive than surgery, can it?

July 7, 2014                                             Madison, IN

Finally!  For the first time this year we saw a heron along the river.  Someone from Big Oak Wildlife Refuge said she saw one along the Ohio in April, but we walk along the river almost every day and this was our first of the year - in the stretch which in the past we might have seen three.

But what a sighting!  There was a balmy breeze, and the heron was flying against the wind.  His neck was bent and it took him a while to make headway.  We were able to watch him for a minute or two.

I have a theory that pollution from the chemical spill in West Virginia made its way into the Ohio and either killed the herons or drove them away, but that is absolutely unsubstantiated speculation.

At least one is back.

July 4, 2014                                             Madison, IN

Slogan for a conserve electricity campaign:  Save a penny, save a planet.

I was opining about how the very privileged classes blah blah blah while "the rest of us don't have enough to live on" when I heard myself.  We have enough to live on.

I chortled:  "Me the people..."

Kind of the opposite of the kingly "we."

Happy USday, citizens!

July 3, 2014
                                              Madison, IN

We have daylily fever.  We can't purchase any, for we have no place to put them (although I suspect if we talk to the landlord, we could talk him into allowing us to go to the expense and labor of planting all sorts of beautiful plants in the area denuded by the removal of the junipers.)  (Get thee behind me, Satan!  I may do that someday, but not without a good deal of perfect weather and psyching up for the project.)

(Don't forget - in Valparaiso I had a five year plan for the garden that turned out to be its ten-year plan for me.)

One of the brothers that run this place talked about planting the area with flowers, so I still have hope that the landlords will do it.  It hasn't happened yet.

But I digress - we are celebrating daylily fever this weekend!

A large encampment of trailers and RVs has sprung up between us and the Ohio River, inhabited by folks with a different agenda for the weekend.

They have regatta fever, which I would catch if it were a sailboat regatta.  This one is a noisy boat race, though, so we are going to head for farmland and look at places that specialize in daylilies.

The weather is supposed to be perfect!

July 2, 2014                                              Madison, IN

This morning the gravel on the bridge on the Heritage Trail was relatively stable - we guess because of the rain.  I said, "It's usually more skittish."  Ha, ha, skittish the trail is not - that would be me!  But it was less "skiddish" than usual (my word).  Or maybe I should have said the trail is usually skiddier.

Then we saw a turkey and could follow it with our eyes all the way up to the railroad tracks, doing a hurried walk/run to the top.  We saw the turkey run, then we saw the turkey run!  First time I ever saw a path that I had evidence was also turkey run.

This morning we saw ten turkeys on the Heritage Trail, including a male in full display.  Impressive.  Something that looked like it might be a confrontation between him and another male (along with followers) disappeared when he about-faced and it began to look if the whole group was going to stage another confrontation altogether - with us!

Not so.  They kind of calmly milled around, and we turned around to go back down the hill.  The meadow had been our goal, anyway, and we reached it.  Halfway down we had another turkey escort, who walked and ran all the way down ahead of us.  I do believe it was probably the same individual that escorted me down the trail before.

July 1, 2014                                               Madison, IN

So closely-held corporations don't have to pay for birth control pills for their employees, but I have to pay taxes for war.  (Or to be exact, I would have to if I had to pay taxes, which I haven't done lately.

Decades ago, though, I did have to pay taxes for war in spite of the fact that the religious organization I attended did not believe in physical violence.

I don't get it. 

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