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Rumilluminations January 2016
By: Esther Powell
Posted on: Fri, January 01 2016 - 8:31 pm

January 31, 2016
Madison, IN

Maybe a good way to end the month of resolution is to make a resolution not to parrot and perpetrate the following lies:

Things will always get better.

No one can do anything to you without your permission.

All you need is love.

Jesus loves you.

Instead of these statements, I suggest:

Things have a better chance of getting better if you work for the good.

Don't become an accessory to your own abuse.

All you need is love and the ability to learn and work and communicate and empathize and unite and... joking and dancing help, too.

The God within me helps me love myself and others.

Haven't written about movies in days. Here are a couple we've seen.

*Jimmy's Hall  Another exercise in futility. We cared about the characters, but only so much. They cared about each other, I guess, but we never hear the fates of any of them except one location and date of death.

*Irrational Man This was an interesting movie, but frustrating to watch. How could the characters be so clueless? Ah, yes youth. Or youngishness. I for one do not feel empathy for - but no, I don't want to ruin it for you. Don't expect humor just because it's Woody Allen.

*The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies  This is a little gem of a film.

January 30, 2016 
Madison, IN

The month of January is wearing down and so, evidently, am I.

Maybe it's because the weather has been glorious. Today sunny and in the high fifties!

My knee is better (oh, didn't I tell you it was causing me trouble because of a fall in September? - a fall in the fall!) so much better I went on my longest walk in months.

What's to write about?

Oh, yes! The latest virus in Brazil.

What is wrong with our priorities? If I turn on the news at any hour I will hear about Donald Trump within ten minutes. Yet I first heard about this horrible virus that causes serious birth defects in infants not more than two weeks ago, and now news sources are saying Brazil is losing the war against it.

From first warning to full-ledged emergency we ostriches haven't had much time to get our heads out of our pet holes-in-the ground.

The Zika virus has already infected thousands of infants in Brazil, reportedly, but is found in other South American countries as well. Scientists have been busy for years fiddling with the mosquito that carries zika so that the larval offspring of genetically altered males will die before adulthood.

Other scientists are desperately trying to develop a vaccine that will help protect pregnant women especially from contracting the disease.

We really need a mainstream TV channel that covers health and disease issues exclusively if our regular news outlets ignore them. Sure, social media spreads the word. In fact maybe that's where I first heard about the Zika virus.

Dang. Maybe I'll have to be more proactive when it comes to health news from around the world.

Will do. 

Now there's a New Year's Resolution for you.

In plenty of time for the Chinese New Year February 8!

January 29, 2016 
Madison, IN

"You smell worse than a skunk's ass!" is the sentence my editor altered to "You smell worse than a skin's mass!"

Whew. Just barely kept my promise.

January 28, 2016 
Madison, IN

My neurons' aim is just a little off these days. The part of my brain in charge of my arm, all fired up with the intention of grasping the salt on the shelf over the stove, has more than once shot my hand into the cupboard above. A reach for a pitcher might retrieve the coffee pot. This particular form of misguided action doesn't happen often but it used to happen - never.

I've observed a similar misfiring of word retrieval in my brain. I start out well enough. I usually get the first syllable or two right. Then something in my brain switches and I finish with the wrong word.

This only happens when I'm speaking, it just occurred to me -  not when I'm thinking the word, or writing on my Kindle.

Ha, ha, while trying to write I've got my program editor to do it for me - untrusty (or as my editor would have it SunTrust) bastard (or as my editor would have it, eastward.)

Okay, okay it is true that the first word I was probably reaching for was untrustworthy. That was definitely a brain failure of a different order, and it was mine.

But eastern instead of bastard? Can you believe I had to teach my editor the word bastard?

No wonder I'm losing my mind.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could get a whole bunch of euphemisms out of these editorial pruderies?

Scurrilous sons of hitches!

Ducking cowards!

You smell worse than a skin's mass!

That last was my partner's suggestion. Can you guess its real meaning?

Ha, ha, ha, ha ha - I'll tell you tomorrow when I've stopped laughing.

January 27, 2016 
Madison, IN

What is Bernie Sanders' appeal to young voters?

I call it as the result of absent fathers (the children of the post World War II absent fathers). 

Young people today have had very little real parenting.

Add to this desire for a father anger against Moms who have been less present than the traditional mom but also more in charge of a child's life - often repressively so, and we have a strong unconsciously held bias towards Dad.

Me, I have watched Clinton for years taking on a variety of government roles with strength and intelligence. I believe she is probably the best candidate for the job.

I like Sanders' political stance even better, though, and I will be delighted to vote for either candidate for President of our United States.

Vote! And vote early at your own convenience, if possible! You don't want to be a voiceless victim of sickness or a broken-down car or long lines! Plan ahead.

It might pay off big-time.

January 26, 2016 
Madison, IN

Pit bulls pill butts putt bills bill putz

Water scatter watt patter pater wetter scat setter

Nonsense unsense desense exsense alsense consense absense resense

God, writing nonsense is hard on these programs!

What would just flow from my pen to the page effortlessly is fought for - every word! - using one of these know-it-all programs.

The literally written page is where it should stay, you might say.

What good is nonsense?

If jogging is good for the body, maybe it is also good for the mind.

Jog, jog, jig jig jitterbugging big pig prancing dancing look askancing!

January 25, 2016
Madison, IN

Weird country we live in. My partner made the observation today that a grade-schooler can be suspended for pointing a hand like a gun at a fellow student and saying "bang" while a middle-aged man running for President can mime shooting someone and say if he shot someone in the street he wouldn't lose any supporters.

Of course he says he was kidding (although his hearers could take it any way they want to). Presumably the grade school child was play-acting also.

*Diary of a Teen-Age Girl   Well, hell I can't really say anything about this without ruining it for you. Of course I really would love ruining it for you, but I can't because it was well done.

*Three Days to Kill   Not serious but not funny. Too silly for adults but too violent for kids. Oh, I am so old-fashioned.

January 24, 2016 
Madison, IN

I've got the DTs. I'm shaky, nauseated, and I'm seeing pink - no, that isn't a pink elephant - that's Donald Trump! (He who should never be named but who can resist?)

He's saying that not only are his supporters really really smart, but they are also extremely loyal: "I could stand in the middle of the street and shoot someone and they would still support me!" 

Just goes to show Jung was right. Thinking and feeling do not go on in the human brain at the same time.

With that egregiously irresponsible comment DT managed to capture a minute or two of news coverage during the worst and widest-spread snowstorm in the eastern part of the country in decades. One consequence of the storm has been stalled highways.

How much of the highway blockages in Pennsylvania and Kentucky were due to snow - and how much to semi trailers blocking the roads due to their inability to get up hills?

It's annoying in the summertime when two lumbering trucks side-by-side on a two-lane highway block the faster traffic behind them. In the winter, it's life-threatening. Can you imagine being stuck in your vehicle for 24 hours in a snowstorm?

Footage from Pennsylvania shows three big trucks abreast not going anywhere, part of (the cause of?) a miles-long jam.

Maybe we should have new laws or a new road convention which requires trucks to stay in the right lane during heavy snowfall or icy conditions so they can't imprison those behind them who could get through under the same conditions.

Right now, seems like bully truck drivers are the DTs of the roads.

(So shoot me.)

January 23, 2016 
Madison, IN

Sunny out, with a pale blue river and white snow.

We had expected to get 1 - 3 inches of snow from the storm whiting out Kentucky and much of the East Coast, but it didn't happen.

When he left at five o'clock this morning he didn't even have to scrape the windshield.

That's okay. There's plenty of snow footage on the weather channel.

Happy as I am that Spring is only(!?) two months away, I'm definitely anticipating February as a major hurdle.

Whenever I think of February, I get the giant-sized image in my head of one of those big warty lizards with zigzag scales down its back and beady oh-so-definitely cold amphibian eyes.

It doesn't matter that Februaries of recent years have not been so bad.

I just can't believe February has changed.

Even a warm heart of Valentine in the middle of that month is not enough to dispel the chill.

January 22, 2016 
Madison, IN

Congratulations, Madison!

It snowed for the first time this winter the other day, and the city shoveled the Riverwalk!

Wednesday evening I left for the book club's new location, the Key West Shrimp House, for the meeting and dinner, expecting the walk to take me half an hour with ice and treachery underfoot. It took only twenty minutes. The walkway was almost entirely clear!

Thank you, thank you.

The hill by the Riverboat Inn was bedecked with sledders and saucers manned by children seizing their last chances down the slide before dark. It's a perfect place to sled because the bottom levels off and there's plenty of time to stop before you're in danger of entering the roadway.

If I'd written yesterday I would have written about an amusing observation of my partner's.

He cooks at Hanover College, and has noticed an occasional slamming at dinner. In other words, every once in a while - seemingly randomly - the student body all seems to come to the dining hall at the same time, leaving little time to replenish supplies.

Last weekend he told the chef in charge, "I'll need all six cases of those chicken fingers," and wondered himself how he knew.

Of course! he realized. Chicken strips are extremely popular. In the old days a student elated by a yummy dish might tell his dorm-mates about dinner when he gets back to his room.

Nowadays the students text their friends the good news while they are still standing in line, the word spreads, and the stampede is on.

Heh, one of the lesser forms of a flash mob.

*Ricki The Flash  A tale of regional and cultural differences, really, as well as a domestic tale. Meryl Streep is quite a rock star - how can you go wrong by picking this film for an hour's entertainment?

January 20, 2016 
Madison, IN

Eight degree weather isn't really so bad when you're dressed warmly and the wind isn't blowing.

Yesterday we walked along the riverwalk and beyond to where there is a campground park and private property.

How did icicles manage to form when the weather was consistently below 20 degrees for days? Shows that microclimates exist and how powerful they are!

Our presence seemed to spook birds that normally would have ignored us. Geese along the riverbank and black vultures in a sunny area of a vacant property took off en masse when we walked by.

Either the cold is making their brains brittle or our seemingly inhuman behavior disconcerted them.

How can we blame them? There were no other people out and about.

*The Ladykillers  This silly film is a lot of fun. Tom Hank's character provides a plethora of scintillating verbiage in pursuit of his nefarious goal. 

*Meet The Patels  I love these films that show me a whole world of stuff that's going on that I had no clue about - especially right here in the U.S.! On the other hand, the main subject was pretty aggravating - and so was the failure to provide subtitles for filmed conversations. We in the States don't respond well to blatant censorship. If you don't want us to listen, then don't show the footage. It's rude.

January 19, 2016 
Madison, IN

* THE REVENANT  (caps for movie on the BIG SCREEN) Unforgettable film about the struggle for survival with spectacularly ugly behavior detailed in landscape of stunning beauty. Winter beauty. So kind of the theater to supplement the effect of the movie by keeping our surroundings cold enough to require keeping on winter coats! 

January 18, 2016 
Madison, IN

Yesterday I saw a television report about a school in Detroit, Michigan that was in terrible physical condition. It seemed to be literally falling apart.

Sure, it didn't have a dirt floor like a third world country - it was almost worse.

What kind of country are we becoming, then? Should we give decadence ratings as opposed to development ratings?

Should some environments in our country get decadence ratings represented by negative numbers?

Citizens of Flint, Michigan have been getting poisoned by lead in their drinking water. I think that might earn Flint a decadence rating of -4.

Of all the rights this country (hell, any country) owes its citizens, water is the most basic. If you can't trust your city, county, or national government to provide clean water, you can trust them for nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Furthermore, as long as local and state governments are failing to do their business, it is clear that we need a strong Federal government to take up the slack.

Don't like Uncle Sam sticking his nose in?

Don't create a stink!

*The Look of Silence  Interviews with mass murderers of Communists under color of law in Indonesia fifty years ago makes American films like the one below look innocent, yet the bloodbath was seemingly done with at least American approval. Lots of people named Anonymous helped in the making of this film. Maybe the past isn't the past after all. (Next day - after watching this I had nightmares.)

*Selfless  Very intriguing and exceedingly violent. Oh, how this director loves fire.

January 17, 2016 
Madison, IN

We've all seen the comment in literature, "He has a talent for stating the obvious."

Obvious to whom? How can anyone know what is obvious to someone else?

Have you ever had an illuminating thought - a real discovery - and had someone respond, "Well, duh"?

I would like to put forward the novel proposition that you never know.

The old saw that if you want to seem wise you should keep your mouth shut may be true, but it's sad.


*Jack the Bear  Thought it was a kid's movie, then whammo!

January 15, 2016 
Madison, IN

"I read it on the Internet."

But where?

When we read something in a physical book or magazine or newspaper, even if we don't remember exactly where, we can reconstruct it. We can paw through papers or go to the library and scan titles and bindings.

With a computer you have a history, I guess, but if I even have a history function on this Kindle I don't know it.

When I am writing I don't want to leave one screen to call up another, anyway.

Just goes to show you we like what we're used to. Piles of books and papers!

"Speak for yourself!" You say (and I say to myself.)

Can anything match the unparalleled elegance of a clean desk and agility at juggling screens?

Which is better for nurturing an organized brain?

January 14, 2016
Madison, IN

Another winter hiatus with fifty degree weather. Sunshine! Balmy breezes!

I strolled the two blocks to Main Street and bought gloves on sale at a local well gee would you call that store a boutique? I forget its name but it isn't hard to find - it's the next building west of the courthouse.

Madison's charms are getting attention again; it is a semifinalist in a nationwide small-city competition - one of fifteen .

We're on the Ohio River! There is at least one fine coffee shop. There's a wide variety of housing here. The cost of living is eighteen percent lower than the national average!

I guess it's clear what's going on with us: we're getting hooked.

*Big Game  Improbable but duh. This one is obviously for the young. Some great scenery.

January 13, 2016 
Madison, IN

It's a sorry situation when it's easier for our President to make a deal with the Iranians than the Republicans.

*The Walk  Viscerally terrifying, even when you know this is a re-enactment. I don't know how I survived!

January 12, 2016 
Madison, IN

Snow! Casperish beginnings to a snowman - snow rollers on the river walk.

I've never seen them before today.

Bevies of robins in the berry bushes in numbers that used to be reserved by English sparrows.

Fluffy-looking ice-covered trees on the hillside across the river.

The biggest upstream waves I've ever seen caused by the same strong wind that gave us horizontal snow"fall" this morning.

An exciting day.

*Alpha  Well, okay. Watchable. Fun, even. But- but-

January 11, 2016
Madison, IN

*Sunday in New York  Very amusing romantic comedy from the early sixties. Too sexually old-fashioned for current tastes? We enjoyed it.

January 10, 2016
Madison, IN

Do you believe in the idea, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do?"

What if the Romans wanted you to wait on your servants during Saturnalia?

Is that saying only true of major cities in competition for the title, Capitol of the World?

Or is it even truer in small villages?

Does it mean you have to gamble in Las Vegas, be Mormon in Salt Lake City, or be Catholic in Rome?

Does every truism have an equal and opposite truism?

"To thine own self be true."

If you are new in town, how do you even know what the local folk would do?

If you were living in a Muslim country, would you, even if you were Jewish or Christian or Pagan, arrange for the circumcision your own daughter?

I'm seriously asking. Do you think that happens?

*Infinitely Polar Bear  Kind of liked it, but I don't know how realistic it is. Especially not the title. In extreme cases folks suffering from bipolar disorder are psychotic and therefore dangerous. There are all degrees on the continuum, though, and - oops! - I may have already said too much.

January 9, 2016
Madison, IN

I come to this page the way some people go to church. Duty, guilt, force of habit?

Sometimes once I'm here I remember what I planned earlier to write about.

I'm waiting...

...and sometimes not.

Often when it is just me and the blank page (that's how I like to think of it even though in reality it's a screen) and it is evening I go nonsensical.

I almost did it tonight: "blistering bombastic pompadours..." but no. I've already done it this month and a little of that goes a long way.

Besides, I'm already gonna have to check the spelling of pompadours and can you imagine how that makes me feel when I'm writing nonsense? 

Well. The post-holiday slump has begun, perhaps, but tomorrow is another day!

P.S. Just looked up pompadours and I'm glad I did! I knew the hair was brushed back from the forehead but I had no idea it was also poured so high!

Sigh. Every day....

Yeah. It's a good thing.

January 8, 2016
Madison, IN

The author of a book I'm reading at the moment comments that TV viewers like news shots with pictures from above.

Reminds me of when I was going through difficult times. Gradually, as I moved through the crisis, I started having dreams about viewing scenes from above, as if the participants were little dolls.

There is nothing like a view from above to give perspective. Nothing like a little distance to provide the big picture.

*Too Late for Tears  In fact, I don't think we saw any characters in this old 1949 noir film even attempt them. Some great lines in this one.

January 7, 2016 
Madison, IN

Today I got a notice from Amazon that some free apps for my Kindle Fire were going to become available soon, including some that will make reading easier.

One of these will set the text up so that you can read without having to move your eyes.

The reader focuses on the middle of the page and the text appears word by word in that location. Harder words and punctuation will slow the pace down.

Ha, ha have we really gotten so lazy that we can't even move our eyeballs?

What about all the proven connections between muscle movement and brain function?

What will happen to someone who reads half the day? Any danger of developing lazy eye?

I don't know exactly when this new stuff will appear, but of course I will have to try it!

I can't imagine it will work for me, but I'll experiment and report back when it becomes available.

Meanwhile I'll just have to content myself with this old glowy thing that weighs next to nothing and contains, as well as a hundred books, dictionary and encyclopedia. This thing that makes rising or even reaching to turn off the light unnecessary.

Until that new liberation I guess I'll just have to thrash my poor eyeballs back and forth across the page like a pair of poor abused draft horses plowing a field in the muck.

Woe is me!

January 6, 2016 
Madison, IN

Ecstatic Epiphany to you!

Strange that a day which celebrates the very rich and physical gifts of the Magi - gold, frankincense and myhrr - should be our word for a psychological, spiritual or intellectual gift.

Maybe that is because the honor of even the wealthy must be accorded to those who give us gifts beyond price.

So what do I wish for you this epiphany?

Why, epiphanies!

Exceeding excellence and endless episodic exultation!

Effortless enquiry ending in estimable empathies.

Ease of embrace and elevating esthetic entertainment.

Equality, emotional equilibrium, and emphatic elements.

Essentially, everything endearing!

Epic Epiphany to Everyone!

January 5, 2016
Madison, IN

Wassail wastrel wasting western welcome winches witches with wonky wouldn'ts.

No! No doughnuts down doughty demonic dragonflies! Damnably damnable flammable flights from faulty failures flail fitfully forward fostering frantic frowns.

Epiphany approaches! Effortless flow endlessly ecstatic elastic ectoplasmic entirety! Essential ecology ends in oozing topology.

Gifts are given governing gratuitous grafting on godless ground? Granted.

Grateful plateful, deep sleep.

January 4, 2016
Madison, IN

Dear sweet little old people in my apartment building. Could it be -

Am I one of you?

Ha, ha, ha to anyone 35 and younger the answer is obviously YES!

To me?

Not quite yet. Not quite yet.


*Music of the Heart  an inner-city story of hope - great film to watch in the new year

January 2, 2016 
Madison, IN

My partner and I plan to go supermarket shopping for the first time in three weeks this Thursday (operating on the theory that shopping on the Eves is likely to be crazy) but we have made a few trips to the grocery a block away from home.

Today as I was checking out with some lactose-free milk a fellow shopper struck up a conversation about the product. 

She recalled that when she was caring for her baby granddaughter the infant was suffering a lot of distress and had a hard belly. She suggested to her daughter that she give the child lactose-free milk and the problem went away. It occurred to me her experience might be helpful to some young mothers (or grandmothers!) today.

I started thinking about the "colic" that one of my babies suffered and wonder if less lactose would have helped her. Then I remembered she was breastfed and thought, maybe not.

Except - maybe the lactose in the milk and cheese I ate made its way into my milk and caused her indigestion. The possibility might be worth looking into.

I just did. It appears as if lactose intolerance is extremely rare in infants and they are more likely to be exhibiting allergic reactions to substances in the mother's diet.

Well, that might have been handy to know thirty-eight years ago. In those days people just shrugged and said, "Some babies are like that."

*The Intern  New Year's Eve we went to the Ohio Theater three blocks from home and saw this movie on the big screen.  Thoroughly enjoyable - great watching for the holiday season!

January 1, 2016
Madison, IN

Welcome to the new year and some long-awaited sun!

I walk along the river almost every day. There's an abundance of entertainment along the river. It isn't, however, usually the water itself that's the source of the most fascination.

Today it was.

The wind was kicking up waves in one direction, the current was heading in another. On the biggest waves, though, there were little ripple wavelets going in yet another direction.

Admittedly, my polarized sunglasses made all this texture more detectable but I often wear my sunglasses and have never seen the river look exactly like this before.

Gee, a few days ago my partner hears new voices from the river;  now I'm starting to see some fancy new moves.

Is the Ohio River suffering from an identity crisis?

Or is she, like so many of us, inspired by the New Year to reinvent herself?

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