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Rumilluminations February 2016
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Mon, February 01 2016 - 1:34 pm

February 29, 2016 
Madison, IN

We had a wonderful time in Berea. Yesterday we went on a hike through woods near an old native American lookout point. I had hoped originally to get to one of the pinnacles, as they are called, but we started from the wrong parking lot for getting up very high. A muddy trail and the wrong shoes completed what we needed to abandon that plan. It was a gorgeous day, there were lots of people on the trails, and we saw nary a bird or squirrel. I wonder why?

After hiking we spent time in the craft stores and galleries at the college. There was definitely some really charming stuff there. Both in the town and school the level of artistry and workmanship was impressive.

The only exception to that rule was some of the paintings we saw. They seemed, with some exceptions, relatively amateurish.

The hotel we chose ended up being a trial. The comedy of errors climaxed at 3 am when we were awakened from deep sleep by shutters being dislodged by the high winds, banging around and crashing down into the parking lot below. At least that night, having asked for an extra blanket, we were warm.

We got a discount without asking, but was it worth it? I don't know.

I'll tell you tomorrow about Fort Harrodsburg and the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, which we visited on the trips down and back respectively. Don't worry - I won't say too much. They were both closed.

February 27, 2016
Berea, Kentucky

Yes! We are in Berea, Kentucky!

I remember hearing about Berea College years ago. My great aunt used to give a donation every year, and my mom continued the tradition. ( Kind of odd, really, she did not donate money to the schools of her children or grandchildren.)

The college is highly unusual in that it doesn't charge tuition. Entrance is highly competitive, and only low-income students need apply. Students work as part of their college contribution.

Berea the town has a significant community of craftspeople, especially. We arrived here in the late afternoon and had the time to look into a few shops, some of which were quite elegantly stocked. It being February, some of the stores were closed. For the season? That we do not know.

One store, Gallery 123: Emerging  Artists Studios, displays and sells objects created by recent graduates of Berea College. A highly unusual Labradorite pendant crafted by Jarod Cox was my find for the day. Lovely.

We had a tasty and abundant meal at Mariachi's Mexican Restaurant. Pretty good for a small town!

There are around 13,000 people living here, though, and it is one of the fastest-growing communities in Kentucky.

Tomorrow we will visit the college.

February 26, 2016 
Madison, IN

Let me see.

We have taken, my partner and I, to working out at the gym three days a week. Is that my reason for playing hookey from writing? Not a very good excuse - the way I write could hardly be considered a chore. On the other hand, I do end up more tired (not to say bushed!) and with a couple hours less leisure on those gym days.

Is the reason that I have other distractions? A few nights ago I had one of the worst anxiety dreams I've ever had in my life. It was a career-oriented kind of dream that would have seemed more appropriate for a young person. If anxiety is anger then with whom am I angry? Or to speak modern American, who am I mad at?

Myself, maybe.

Night before last I woke up thinking, "I'm already ____. I'm already ____."

Horrified, I repressed the thought, then equally horrified that I was refusing to listen to this message from myself (or the collective unconscious or the nagual or whatever that inner world is that dreams come from) I tried to recapture it.

At that point I thought the words were, "I'm already dead. I'm already dead. I'm already dead." It was almost like a form of self-hypnosis.

Pretty scary, huh?

What is that about? A message from some part of my body? Ha, ha that would be an interesting variation on Descartes' "I think therefore I am."

Or is it a message from my Jungian animus, my internal partner, saying that I have failed terminally to give him what he needed to survive? That could be related to my anxiety dream from a couple of nights before. If that's what has happened, that would be very sad.

Or is it a message from Old Self (as in the old, selfish, still unsaved Old Man in Christianity) that it is dead?

Freaked out, I couldn't resist telling my mate about my mental mantra.

He was unusually dismissive. "It's just a dream."

"Oh, okay."

Is that attempt to shrug off these internal goings-on why I haven't been inspired to write?

If so, maybe these confessions have broken the dam.

We have seen movies in the last few days.

* The Railway Man   This is one powerful, powerfully moving film about actual events of World War II. The best movie we have seen in a while in my opinion.

* The Face of Love  Kind of a movie monograph. A dramatized case study, if you will but with no psychiatrist. Still, it fell flat for me. I got restless and bored.

* Children of the Revolution, fated not to receive boldface type in this mention due to my technical incompetence, is at least entertaining. It is kind of inexplicable, though. It's a few days since we saw it and I'm wondering, why did they bother? Mockumentary originally written, it turns out, by the director's grandfather.

February 22, 2016 
Madison, IN

What does the phrase "human resources" mean to you?

The first time I was ever sent to a Human Resources Department was probably when I was applying for a job. I may have thought it a strange name for what had been known up to that time as "Personnel" but I did not know that the change might signify anything special.

If I thought about it at all, I thought the new name indicated more humanization of the department, which dealt with on all sorts of employee-related issues like tax forms and insurance.

I thought that human resources meant resources for the humans who worked there - you know, resources like jobs, information about the jobs, personnel issues, questions about insurance - stuff like that. I never felt I needed them much and paid them little attention, really - the folks who worked in those departments.

Gradually, though, I began to hear the letters HR spoken sarcastically, or with distaste. I had no idea why, really. The only time I might have had problems with them was when I was trying to get a job.

Now, finally, at a time in my life when I may never again hold a paying job, I think I begin to understand.

The Human Resources Department is not about resources for the human employees. It's about getting and managing humans as resources for the business, which these days is often a corporation. Humans as resources, you know - kind of like office machines and supplies.

Ha, ha, ha, now isn't that a wonderful instance of Orwellian doubletalk!

*A Walk Among the Tombstones  Terrible title for this movie, which, while violent, is really pretty interesting. Hard-boiled ex-cop detective ends up accepting a case which he k owes is going to be trouble. He's got pretty good instincts.

February 21, 2016 
Madison, IN

Beautiful springlike day that could be May. I think February's having an identity crisis.

Went on a walk across the bridge and back. I was walking as fast as I could and was passed easily by a tall long-legged couple who weren't even hustling.

A few minutes later, from the bridge I saw below some birds, beating hard with their wings. Ducks! I marveled at how much harder they had to work to get anywhere than the much larger geese.

Then I saw the couple who had passed me - small figurines far ahead.

Suddenly I had the realization: I was the duck to their geese!

The male mallard sure had a pretty iridescent emerald head, though.

*Truth  The story behind the nonstory about George W.'s nonservice in the National Guard: The perils of journalism. No, no, I don't mean it wasn't true! Don't let me mislead you! Actually an interesting film, albeit some depressing.

February 19, 2016 
Madison, IN

Whether or not you are fascinated by the inner world - fantasy, spring of creativity, the joint workings of our brain and internal bodies - or the outer world, your attention, if you universalise, is expanded to encompass a larger reality than is represented by the personal "you."

Concentration on the surface of "you" - what you look like in person, what your hair feels like, how you look in selfies, the sticky subject of makeup and false eyelashes - has got to be the most superficial specialty you could choose - unless, of course you are using this interface to raise the level of joy, fun and health of others.

Hmmm... this interface between the inner and outer worlds may be thicker than I thought.

Or maybe, like so many other opposites, it represents a broad continuum of reality.

Such a broad stream, I continue to maintain, that some of us get lost in it.

As I seem to have.

Ha, ha, ha! 

Isn't life funny? . . . . . . or is it just me?

* Jack Goes Boating  Intense drama, at first depressing, then nerve-wracking. It's good though, really! It takes turns slapping and patting you. Fine acting.

February 18, 2016 
Madison, IN

I was thinking about the commonly Christian idea of the afterlife from the point of view of relationships. The traditional Christian vow in marriage is " 'til death do us part."

It occurred to me that for passionate (or very possessive) souls that prospect might not hold much consolation for those facing death. Presumably those who attain Heaven are perfectly ecstatic to let go of earthly attachments and spend Eternity being happy with God. On the other hand I'm sure there are many who would rather retain some of their earthly relationships.

Perhaps that is the attraction of Mormonism for the faithful. They get to have their spouses in the Afterlife, if I understand correctly. In the case of Joseph Brigham Young that meant twenty-odd spouses, some of whom he supposedly married out of charity that they might not miss out on the everlasting good life. On the other hand, since he used many of them as unpaid servants and others as basically sexual slaves there are perhaps even fewer Mormons who look forward to an afterlife.

I've read that some Native American tribes held the belief that the wife of a man who married again had to carry him on her back into the next world. (Or was it that she would have to carry the former wife?) Either way that sounds insupportable to me!

So what is our obsession with what waits us after death? I have no idea what happens - beyond physical disintegration - when we die but just as I don't believe in Hell I fail to believe that little neophyte innocent me is going to be held accountable for whatever outlandish freak belief I might hold upon my departure from this life.

*Mental  Yeah, it's mental all right, and very uneven, but it's also very funny. Wacky, screwball, and a little psychopathic (if such a thing is possible.)

February 17, 2016 
Madison, IN

Oh, I am so afraid! I'm shivering in my salt-stained boots!

I'm technically warm in my comfortable bed but I'm frozen with terror!

My well-prepared meals don't seem to be nourishing my terrorist-frazzled nerves.

Last week I saw a good-looking stranger in the laundry room.

Was he (shudder) a Middle-Eastern furriner?


(Me as seen by the GOP)


*Breathe  Makes a good beginning, then drags a little and flounders to an improbable disappointing finish.

Last few days?

*The Dinner  And they seemed like such nice families!

February 16, 2016 
Madison, IN

Conversing about Carlos Castaneda the other day I was reminded about his comments about the tonal and the nagual. For the first time I considered that those states of being might roughly resemble extroversion and introversion.

People often speak of reading as a habit of introverts. If so, it is pretty extroverted, this entrance into someone else's internal reality and/or imagination.

How big is the world of the nagual, I wonder? For the sake of balance and symmetry I would like to believe that it's as wide and wonderful as our obviously physical external reality.

Of course our internal reality is most likely grounded somehow in the physical world also, in ways we cannot fathom now.

*Pure  Love this Swedish film - another great performance by a young actress new to us.


*The Chambermaid  Unique in our experience. Good low-key performances, especially the lead.

February 15, 2016 
Madison, IN

Ha, ha! Trump is beginning to sound like the Fisherman's Wife.

It's kind of ironic that the only way you can get away from Trump on the news is to turn on FOX.

*Chelsea Does  For the past few days we have been watching Chelsea Handler's new documentaries on weddings, race, drugs, technology. Highly entertaining glimpses into worlds you probably have not explored.

February 14, 2016 
Madison, IN

This February I'm feeling the chill and the confusion.

Valentine's Day? There are three or four St. Valentines! Reading the article in Wikipedia about the day, the earliest reference I could see to February 14 was that it was the burial date of one of them.

Well, isn't that something to celebrate! Whoopee! Another martyr. Supposedly he wrote to his jailer's daughter a note of appreciation and signed it "Your Valentine."

Well, for whatever reason, we do it too.

The impression I get is that the custom of giving Valentines became kind of institutionalised and expected around the mid-nineteen hundreds, at which time (what a coincidence) mass manufactured greeting cards for the occasion became available.

I find it significant that people's response to duty is always to make it less onerous.

Maybe that is one reason why February and November are both difficult months for me.

Are love and gratitude really amenable to institutionalization?

I think not.

I love, and I am grateful.

I would love and be grateful for the opportunity for us all to feel these things when we are so moved (ha, ha I meant to say "when we damn well want to.")

Right now it is cloudy here. The temperature is 15 or 18 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on which square inch of my phoneface I'm looking at. There is a 52% chance that when my partner gets released from his 12+ hour shift in Hanover it will have possibly been snowing for five hours.

My plan for the day is basically my plan for every Sunday: warm up the kitchen by baking some bread.

Oh, but by the way, Happy Valentine's Day to YOU anyway.

Your Eeyore.

February 11, 2016 
Madison, IN

*The Lesson   Harsh realities and misplaced pride drive a mother in an unforeseen direction. Powerful.

February 10, 2016 
Madison, IN

Judging by the portion of the electorate that has the DTs, I'm thinking that Flint, MI is not the only city in the U.S. that has problems with lead poisoning.

DT, by the way, is really out of touch. He said this a.m. that a hypothetical 48 year old mother of two teenagers earning $52,000 would not have health insurance. !!?!!

She most certainly would!

He also said "We are getting ripped off."

No! He is one of the rippers!

But as usual, he gets most of the attention. Even from me.


February 8, 2016 
Madison, IN

I was wondering why the women in movies often dress to kill, then are rude to men who approach them.

My partner responded, "It's cool to be rude now. All the things we grew up to believe is bad behavior is now how everyone acts. Breaking things, stealing, vandalism, yelling and having hissy-fits - that's acceptable behavior these days."

Sure seems like it - not to mention the use of illegal drugs, binge-drinking and bar-hopping drunken driving surly tardiness absenteeism petulance

not to mention unconscionable financial dealing recreational lying speeding anti-hero

cool, cool, oh way cool.

Oh, we must be getting old. Ancient, in fact.

Yawn. After nine. It's almost my bedtime.

*Like Sunday, Like Rain  The music -  boring like water torture. The acting, good, but overall the effect kind of muted.

February 7, 2016
Madison, IN

Wow. I saw white crocuses blooming in a garden today.

White for the snow that's coming tomorrow night, I guess.

Poor babies. Four days of highs in the twenties will provide a challenge to those blossoms.

The cold will also challenge us.

I hope the bread I baked today will help fight the cold. It's a rich loaf made with ground millet and sesame seeds. Just another Tassajara bread variation, except I used all whole wheat flour - no white at all.

Since I started using powdered milk in every loaf and beating the sponge not one hundred but one hundred and fifty strokes it seems to hold together better and has a finer grain.

February 5, 2016
Madison, IN

What's in a name?

Well, Trump is a trumpet, Rubio is a rube, Cruz is a Cross - hopefully not for us to bear.

Jeb Bush is in the shrub family, probably an enemy like the rest of them.

Fiorina comes from ancient Latin flower, and might be just as out of date and transitory.

Speaking of names, yesterday we saw a documentary called

about a group of young men who adopt wild mustangs and take them from the border of Mexico to the Canadian border, after three months of training and conditioning. The problems they encounter are sometimes surprising and unpredictable. The wild lands of the United States however are predictably gorgeous. Contains opinions about both sides of the conflict about wild horses on public lands.

February 4, 2016
Madison, IN

Last night I was reading an Edmund Crispin novel when he used an unfamiliar word. Well, that is not unusual with him. He often uses words that are archaic or coined by Crispin himself.

Since I was reading this book on my Kindle, I waved my magic wand (in this case my forefinger) and touched the word, "paraleipsis."

Like magic a Wikipedia entry appeared on my screen. To see the meaning of paraleipsis, it said, I should go to "apophasis." Blase, I waved my magic wand again, and the meaning of apophasis became clear.

Apophasis, the article stated, also goes by the names paraleipsis (alternatively spelled paralipsis or paralepsis) occupatio, praeteritio, preterition, cataphasis, antiphrasis, and parasiopsis.

I eagerly seized on the word, preterition. I knew that one! I learned it in Latin class, and knew what it meant. In fact I have taken pleasure in intoning that wonderful word when I hear a speaker using the technique.

Imagine my horror to discover that there were eight other words in existence that I could have used equally appropriately and thus added the spice of variety to my commentary!

Apophasis (AKA as preterition) Wikipedia, said, "is usually employed to make a subversive ad hominem attack....The device is typically used to distance the speaker from unfair claims, while still bringing them up."

The article goes on to give example after wonderful example of why a person might use this rhetorical device - and not always for an attack.

Isn't it a pity that someone didn't take those eight different words and apply them individually to eight subtly different uses of the verbal technique, thus giving them more importance and meaning? No AKAs needed! It would have legitimized them all.

Instead most of those poor neglected words, the bastards, will probably disappear from our language completely, only manifesting to us when and if we are sixty-eight years of age or rhetorical scholars, if at all.

Or in Wikipedia articles.

It's a crying shame.

February 3, 2016 
Madison, IN

Men are traditionally seen as really wanting a son. Is that the compulsion of the Y chromosome, which is replicated from father to son?

What about mitochondrial DNA, which is passed from the mother to children of both sexes, but only passed on to grandchildren through daughters? We don't hear so much in literature or history about women passionately determined to have daughters.

Is that because mitochondrial DNA originally came into our cells via microbes from the outside?

Now, a year after my latter of two DNA tests, I have realized my mother's mitochondrial DNA, the DNA that has gone consistently from mother to daughter through millennia of generations, may have ended with my mother's granddaughters. Sure, one of them may yet have a daughter, but that is beginning to seem increasingly unlikely.

I think that's rather sad.

What an unintended (and kind of silly!) consequence of taking a DNA test.

P.S. a few days later, I am reminded that there were seven women who provided all the mitochondrial DNA that women in the world today. So I have a lot of "sisters."

*Trash  Three Brazilian boys surviving by combing the Rio city dump are thrown into the middle of a nasty situation involving a local politician. Kind of loosey-goosey but the film comes off in the end.

February 2, 2016 
Madison, IN

The Internet information highway is definitely a mixed bag.

Sure, a wealth of fact is available, but sometimes you need to know a technical buzzword to have the magical " open, sesame!"

Sometimes the specific fact you want just doesn't seem to be available (e.g. today we are trying to find out the number of Democratic voters in Iowa 2012 caucuses and can't find credible numbers.)

The "facts" as listed on one day may be different from "facts" at the same site on another day. Of course efforts to increase accuracy and precision are appreciated but the disappearance of data and statistics might just as well be due to a desire to hide or obfuscate them.

The truth on the information highway, unfortunately, might often come in the form of roadkill.


*Swordfish  To tell the truth, some of the transitions lost me, but not my partner. Good thing we can pause and restart here at home. Still, in spite of my obvious inferiority in understanding I think it would probably be considered great entertainment by teenage boys. Not by me. Action-packed, I grant. Fun in a bloody brutal kind of way.

February 1, 2016 
Madison, IN

My partner is, as soon as possible, cutting back on his hours at work again.

Folks at work say, "But what are you going to do?"

He answers, "What do you do on your days off? I'm going to have more days off."

He thinks, "Oh, I don't know. Start checking out nursing homes, funeral parlors, cemeteries...."

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Talk about deadpan humor.

*Contre Enquete  Oh, we promise you twists and turns in this police procedural - or whatever.

Highlighting below unintentional. When will I ever learn?

*Straight Time  The anti-hero in 1978 perhaps hit a new low. Young Dustin Hoffman and other familiar faces.

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