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Rumilluminations September, 2016
By: Esther M. Posell
Posted on: Thu, September 01 2016 - 9:50 pm

September 30, 2016 
Madison IN

This morning I woke up early, read for a while, then closed my Kindle and my eyes.

There was something soft and silky on my pillow, under my hand. I realized with a start it was my own hair.

I had missed it without realizing, I guess. It has been relatively short for almost four years now - too short to reach out six inches on my pillow for my hand to encounter.

It felt luxurious. I'm glad I am letting it grow - something I decided to do partly as a money-saving gesture. I may spend that twenty dollars, but not on a haircut. A few years from now I'll get tired of the weight and burden of washing and chop it off again as I now chop off my feelings of guilt about the practitioners of the haircutting profession.

It's the same way in other areas of my life. When I am in hard dry brown clear New Mexico I forget the Midwest. Then every once in a while a warm night will remind me of soft moist cloudy green Indiana.

A large-petalled Oregon camelia will remind me of a white Mexican butterfly with even bigger wings. Stroking an unresponding mimosa plant in the North brings disappointment and a vague dissatisfaction; in Mexico the folding and retiring of the touched leaf surprises and delights. Likewise surprise the exposed thorns!

When I was three or four my family went from slightly-hilly-to-flat northern Indiana to California with mountains on the horizon, then three years later moved back again. Rarely did I miss the mountains. Living in town, I seldom saw the horizon!

But I have gone back and forth, up here and down there, sometimes not for years but always sometimes. That childhood tearing-away, even if not scarring, is lasting.

I will always be divided.

September 29, 2016 
Madison IN

On a hike up the Heritage Trail Sunday I saw a group of deer, the youngest-looking of which was quite a dark color, closer to charcoal than most of the brown deer I see.

A lot of squirrels I've seen lately have had a similar darkish tint. Ditto the groundhogs.

Why are there so many wild animals looking darker these days?

I don't think there have been any forest fires around here and my vision is just fine, thank you!

*Jack Strong  Chilling and thrilling and ultimately - but no, I won't ruin this for you!  What others went through while I was living my own little life of noisy desperation. Sobering.

September 28, 2016 
Madison IN

* Torch Song Trilogy  This incredible talent should be a name as common in every household as say Anne Bancroft and Matthew Broderick. Wait while I look it up. Harvey Fierstein. The least we can do is remember this most remarkable performance.

September 27, 2016 
Madison IN

There is a new installation up near the top of the Heritage Trail in Madison, across the road from the women's and juvenile detention center. It is comprised of open tunnels of semicircular wire.

It would be a great lesson in perspective and perception to take a group of children to approach it on foot, having them stop every ten feet or so and describe what they think they are seeing. The lesson, however would be for the adults as well, as it was for me when I espied it after the long trek up the hill.

The unusual experience of the sculpture is well worth the hike!

*Genius  The story of the Thomas Wolfe who wrote Look Homeward, Angel and the editor who, with Wolfe, achieved the daunting task of slimming down his copious output to works of readable length. Touching.

September 25, 2016 
Madison, IN

This morning while I was making French Roast coffee I was thinking how the French and others now yell "Merde!" meaning, of course, "shit."

So I thought maybe the words merde and murder were related. Maybe "bloody murder" really originated as something else.

Just now I looked it up. The answer would be no, although the Latin words for shit and murder are very similar indeed to merde.

I did learn something interesting, though. The French word merde was naturalized in England long ago and used as an English word until around the seventeenth century, at which time it disappeared from usage (presumably expelled, heh heh). It is now again used everywhere, of course, but as a French word.

And that, folks, is my gift of linguistic incongruity of the day - just for you.

September 24, 2016 
Madison IN

Today was a bust for heaven (I never even made it to Chautauqua) and hell both. Silly me - I trusted the time of the KKK rally as what they said it would be in a newspaper article a week or two ago. This switching around of times seems to be a pattern with them. (Rachel Maddow reported a similar runaround for reporters by KKK in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago.) Luckily I am not a real reporter, so I won't suffer for my carelessness.

Nobody else suffered, either, from my absence. The freethinkers were there to express patriotism and a pointed lack of support for the KKK. "Several" busloads of students from Hanover College were there to demonstrate against the organization.

By the time I got to the Firemen's Park a couple minutes after 2:00 the rally was over. An anti-KKK demonstrator who chose her place at 7:00 a.m. was happy to tell me what had transpired. She comes from a family of firefighters and didn't at all appreciate that the KKK was rallying there, formally voicing her objections at a City Council meeting.

When I asked her about their ostensible purpose in addressing the drug problem here, she jeered, "They didn't say much. Oh, they talked about it for a little while, but they were really here to recruit." On that subject she had more to say. "They left time to meet and greet, but nobody wanted to meet and greet them!"

One person in the rally was fully robed (I imagined in white, but a video showed me his outfit was black. A hot day for black!) I don't know how many members attended the rally, but my chief source reported that there were lots of people around, mostly counterdemonstrators.

All in all, it sounds as if rumors of people coming "to riot" were, as expected, completely unfulfilled.

So I didn't get to heaven or hell today, but I did make some whole wheat French bread. Someone who did make it to heaven used our parking space without permission for over five hours. My partner had to park in a neighbor's spot after a hard day's work - because she didn't need it and offered!

We have good neighbors.

*Race The story behind Jesse Owens' multiple wins in the Berlin Olympics, 1936. Inspirational events against a horrific background.

September 23, 2016 
Madison, IN

Here we are on the eve of the wonderful Chautauqua arts and crafts fair here in Madison, along the Ohio River in the vicinity of the Lanier Mansion, and also the dreaded KKK rally in the other direction from our home at the Firemen's Park.

Kind of like being suspended between heaven and hell.

I will go to one out of admiration, excitement, and enthusiasm and walk as casually as possible past the other just to see what is going on. I have heard rumors that there will be counterdemonstrations in town as well.

I'm due at the public library on Sunday to help with our big book sale. Hopefully Saturday's events won't be so dramatic that they drive my book sales responsibilities from my mind.

The times around here and in the whole country are getting altogether too "interesting."

*Killer Joe  It's been a long time since we have seen a movie about insect life... oh, I am sorry, were those supposed to be humans? Silly me! Er, the story line was very compelling, though. Tender souls should not see this film.

September 22, 2016 
Madison, IN

Okay, North Carolina, why did you get body cams and car cams for your police? Why did you go to all that expense?

When I first heard about police getting cameras, I thought, "Great! Now we can have a record of their work. More transparency! More evidence - evidence that is objective! Evidence that could cut either way to expose Truth!"

Except now North Carolina is trying to keep that footage - paid for by the people's taxes - out of the hands of the people.

Why? To protect the police? I thought the body cams were supposed to protect us - act as a check on policemen's behavior! Now it is beginning to look as if the protection is going only in one direction.

In past months police in some areas have been trying (sometimes succeeding) to keep citizens from photographing them during the course of their work.

Sorry. The police cannot have it both ways. They must not have complete control of their records AND ours.

What good is all this wonderful new technology if we only end up with a Police State anyway?

*Carry On, Teacher  British comedy about a beloved headmaster that is only flawed by excesses of several kinds. I especially appreciated hearing the work of composer Bruce Montgomery (aka Edmund Crispen, the mystery writer). It satisfied some curiosity on my part, but not as much as some of his horror movie music would have. I am not, unfortunately, likely to hear any of that because I hate horror shows! (One of my own self-inflicted catch-22 situations.)

*42 Wonderful true story about the great Jackie Robinson.


*Milk Money Aw....Maybe there are some people who don't need a feel-good romantic comedy once in a while, but I'm not one of them!

September 20, 2016 
Madison IN

Today's popular music is not what we would have called music in the past, unless you include it in the category of atonal music.

Today's pop is a mix of words and sounds. What the young today call a song I would call a collage.

*Dot the i  Lots of interesting twists of plot, but unfortunately our caring did not extend to the end of the film. Maybe it would work in a novel or maybe it would work in a film with more sympathetic characters.

*The Unfaithful  A courtroom drama that spends very little time in the courtroom. It is a story well-told. Black and white, 1947.

September 19, 2016 
Madison, IN

Hillary, Hillary Clinton Willery
Tweedle-Dee and Tweedledum
Trump Trump Dunold Drumf
Winners Losery going down

*Covenant with Death  Great storyline but mediocre film with ugly sets and costumes. Supposedly set in Santa Fe but not the Santa Fe I knew! Nor were most of the supposedly Hispanic actors Hispanic. The so-called Zuni ("Zooney" in the illiterate subtitles) looked Polynesian to me. Oh, well, the old days in the movies....

*Big Eyes  Movie about a woman with about the lowest self-esteem I ever heard of. Of course, the money probably helped. Interesting.


*Hector  A pretty good film but didn't quite hack it with me. Too static.

September 16, 2016 
Madison, IN

Wow, where is our life during deep breathless sleep? Does our consciousness disperse into the little universe of each little cell of every organ? Like a fairy godmother, does it then disappear into a higher life of dreaming?

When we dream, our waking is a little death into everyday life. The dream at the very least is left behind for a while.

Our larger life is faced at last with death. Many religions believe that death is merely a kind of interface between two kinds of life - that when our bodies die we enter a higher, larger reality.

It's kind of fun to imagine this as a never-ending continuum - at least until we are all part of one big being called the Universe.

Or so I could imagine. Except what do you know - it actually is beginning to look as if our "Universe" curves around the edges like a body, and there might be more than one universe, making the very name of our total reality archaic.

If it's all a continuum is there any chance of bumping up an extra energy level or two as electrons are sometimes known to do? Any hope of skipping all those potential after-death experiences like heaven, hell, purgatory, and limbo?

I would like to soar into that higher sleep called blissful nonexistence for a good long rest before awakening into life at a super cosmic level for yet another go-round.

Yeah, I'm feeling inspired!

*Arbitrage  This film grips the whole time. Dramatic and suspenseful.

*Sweet Bean  Japanese film about a humble pastry cook whose life is transformed by an elderly woman expert at making adzuki bean paste. 

September 15, 2016 
Madison IN

I am woman.

I believe that internal threats are just as real as external ones. I demand funds for education and welfare equal to our military expenditures.

I am woman.

Men and women are still too unequal almost a century after acquiring the right to vote. I demand equal representation in our government for men and women. This means two representatives for every one now in existence. For the Senate this should be easy: one Senator of each sex from each state. (I called for this years ago, but here it is again.)

I am woman.

It is high time the Presidency was occupied by a woman. Hillary Clinton has been admitted to be the most qualified person ever.

I am woman.

Politicians have never been known for purity. Don't demand a higher level of integrity from a candidate just because she is a woman.

I am woman. More importantly, I am human.

Hear my voice!

*Rams   Brothers in a far-flung Icelandic valley who depend on sheep for their livelihood deal with adversity and each other. Powerful.


*Secrets: Richard III Revealed  The story of finding the skeleton of England's Richard III buried beneath a parking lot. We love archeological detective stories!

*Wallander Lately we've also been watching the British production of the Swedish series. Fine detective work combined with almost inexcusable oversights combined with personal vicissitudes makes for very human character acting.

September 14, 2016 
Madison, IN

What a relief to have the noisy air conditioner off at night! I'm wondering if renters maybe have a right to quieter air conditioning but I suspect that window units are always noisy - at least noisy enough to increase stress in room occupants.

Are scientists studying the effects of different auditory assaults on the human body? I have heard of one study that showed that children who live at ground level on noisy city streets have more health issues, but that is the only such study I know about offhand.

City ordinances against high-decibal sounds would indicate an awareness of the destructiveness of noise. The lax enforcement of these rules, though, tells a different story. Most of the communities I have lived in make noisy peace disturbing a non-priority when it comes to stopping motorists and shelling out tickets.

Even contemporary popular music sounds like mostly noise to me. What, real tones? Melodic lines? What are those? I keep waiting for the swing back to valuing the auditory experience. I keep waiting for the backlash against auditory assault - and it keeps not happening.

Oh, well, at least soon there will be one less aggressive machine invading my dreams with leonine roars, and maybe I'll spend some time in appliance shops, listening to new updated air conditioners.

If nothing else, maybe someone will have invented an air conditioner that provides a constant soothing white noise that covers the on/off functioning noises of small apartment units. That might do the trick!

(Days later - they already exist. Good!)

September 13, 2016 
Madison, IN

Yesterday I started talking about bitterness in the elderly and got entangled by considerations of happiness.

Now that I am almost three score and ten myself, I begin to understand why some older people might be overwhelmed by futility and hopelessness.

So much of what so many people have worked for is swept away by time and social change! People who have spent their lives educating are witnessing fewer people getting educated.

People who have slaved to institute civil rights and to end slavery have seen racism rear its ugly head all over again before it was truly stamped out.

Those who have worked hard to succeed and bought the financial advice of others have seen their investments halved or completely decimated by the caprice of the economic system.

Even I, who haven't sacrificed much for anything, have seen my lifelong interest in preventive good health rendered somewhat ridiculous by the failure of our institutions and scientists to consistently act in good faith when supposedly educating us.

I'm not exceptionally bitter, I don't think. Maybe average.

But give me another twenty years. Who knows how I'll feel then?

Or, maybe, give me a couple of months.

*Mustang  Recent Turkish film about five teen-age sisters which is really suspenseful. Kudos!

*Come Back, Africa  Restored 1959 film about a black man's experience during apartheid South Africa. Powerful.


Elly  A mostly family group of people from Tehran travels for a couple of nights by the sea and suffers misfortune complicated by incomprehensible lies. Definitely some good portrayals of personalities and their interactions, but film has a couple too many lies and way too many minutes.

September 12, 2016 
Madison, IN

I'm trying to think of an older person who, in my youth, seemed happy - the way grandmas are supposed to be. (There's that word "supposed" again - I wrote an essay on it when I was in grade school).

One of my grandmothers (why does this damn electronic editor always change my plurals to possessives?) was dead, the other not jolly at all.

My dad's mother could laugh on occasion. She wasn't exactly severe. I remember her best in the kitchen. Grandma mostly seemed worn out. Five kids and fourteen grandchildren will do that to you, I guess.

My gone grandma had been supplanted in my mother's childhood by her aunt - her father's sister. She was eighteen years older than my granddad so maybe chronologically she was more like a great-grandmother. This old lady had energy, I guess. She was a doctor and had energy about her convictions, at least.

I would not call either of them a stereotypical grandmotherly type.

My dad's dad alternated between serious and stern - in my company, at least. I learned to volunteer for projects like painting the garage to avoid being constantly interrupted to perform small chores. Better complete service than partial piecemeal servitude.

I don't, come to think of it, know many happy older people. I know some who are sweet, some resigned. Some put on a good front but the act, although loving, somehow rings hollow. At best, they are cheerful.

So what's my point? I guess I originally started out to explore the inclinations and temptations to older-generational bitterness. Why should our older generations not be happier than they seem to be?

Then I look at younger generations. They are not happy, either - if possible, even less so.

My partner (along with George Bernard Shaw and probably Saint Theresa the most recent) would shake his head.

What's with this obsession with happiness, anyway?

September 9, 2016
Madison, IN

*Joy  Amazing story of an inventor's struggles to become what she can be. We had heard nothing about this movie until my partner picked it up at the library and we can't figure out why.


*Flight of the Butterflies  Magical documentary about a very real unbelievable creature we all think we know.

*Southpaw   The tale of a boxer and his family. Worthwhile, I guess, but I am not highly entertained by watching people hit each other, no matter how good the acting is.

September 8, 2016
Madison, IN

Hot, sticky early September weather maintains here in southern Indiana.

I learned a few days ago that the Ku Klux Klan is having a rally in a park two blocks from where we live.

The focus of the rally has nothing to do with race, the KKK claims, but the drug problem so endemic to our area now.

I would say ha, ha, ha about it, but I don't have the heart to laugh.

The organization with the hateful burden of violent racism on its collective shoulders is going to take on the added burden of solving our drug problem?

Gee, I wonder where the KKK will choose to deposit that toxic mix? Think maybe the Governor of Maine has shown them a potential dump site?

Does Jefferson County really have to provide this organization with the nasty past a public place to meet?

Maybe we do. Maybe it's only fair, but I can't help but wonder about anyone willing to associate themselves with such an infamous organization as the KKK.

Words drop out of our language all the time - common words become fodder for linguistic history books.

Some organizations suffer the same fate. Their names disappear from common parlance through neglect and disuse.

Why can't the KKK?

One of its members brags that local membership has been passed down through the generations and promises a "cross lighting" in an undisclosed location.

Interested? Read all about it and our community's reaction to the planned rally in the Madison Courier. It makes for exciting reading arousing feelings of horror, disgust, shock and, in me, mockery.

The KKK is not OK.

Some organizations just deserve to die.

September 6, 2016
Madison, IN

Labor Day we went hiking in General Butler State Park at Carrollton, Kentucky. The Fossil Trail was supposed to be a 4.5 mile loop but we tried it without a map in spite of cautions about it not being well marked. We paid for our heedlessness by thrashing around for at least six or seven miles.

The woods were pleasantly shady, the meadows first created for ski slopes partly mowed into paths and partly bedecked with wildflowers, butterflies, deer and a cottontail. We saw the town of Carrollton from above a couple of times. We saw a small swamp with cattails and heard the plop of jumping frogs.

When we saw two signs, one of which said Fossil Trail was 4.5 miles, the other 5.4 miles, we tried one more time to quickly get back to our car. We ran into two hikers, though, who helped us realise it wasn't going to happen the way we were going. We backtracked to the contradictory signs and took a third path to the Lodge half a mile away.

Whew! The air conditioning was cool and lunch welcome. We stocked up on water and walked the road along the golf course back to our car, luckily only half a mile away.

I got the map at the Lodge and honestly it wouldn't have been much help if we had possessed it during our hike. Fossil Trail, which was supposed to be a loop, didn't look like a loop to me even on the map.

My partner made an astute observation on our walk along the golf course: It's absurd that the people running this park have the abundant funds necessary to keep up a golf course (incidentally devoid of people on this beautiful Labor Day) and tennis courts (also empty) but can't find the minimal amount of money that would be needed to mark trails.

And Fossil Trail? Admittedly we may have missed a fossil part of the trail, but we have seen more fossils in ten feet walking along the Heritage Trail and Hatcher Hill Road Cliffs than we saw hiking for 2 and three-quarters hour walk on Fossil Trail.

*The Corn is Green  Ideas that are still struggling for acceptance today grace this film from the forties - set another fifty years earlier than that, supposedly in Wales! Bette Davis in black and white.

*Jade  Thriller with a car chase unlike anything before or since, and sex. Lots of sex.

Over the weekend

*The Dresser  Recent version that is very affecting, very good indeed.

*It's a Big Country  Eight short stories strung together in a common theme of the U.S. different realities. "Which America?" Kind of apropos for today.

September 2, 2016 
Madison, IN

One of the movies we saw got me to thinking about the nature of fiction again, and inspired this metaphor in my mental stew.

If fiction is the ocean (heavy with grains of salt, though dissolved) and real life clear fresh water, then organized fiction like novels and short stories are estuaries.

I'm embarrassed we found time for three movies today. We did work out, though. Honest!

*The Words  One of those ambiguous story within a story plots that I love. I couldn't agree with one of the protagonist's passionate statements about reality and fiction, though. 

*The Ex-Mrs. Bradford  We reached back into the thirties for this one. It was a delicious comic delight. Great fun and don't angry-young-man knock it. Laughter is good for the abs. 

*The Gay Falcon  This movie must have been terribly popular, since it spawned what - a dozen? - sequels. If the quality of these productions holds up over that span, we will have quite a few hours of antidote against campaign aggravations, world woes, and dismal winter twilights. Actually, in their time they must have been an antidote for world wars!

September 1, 2016 
Madison, IN

Honestly, people are so perverse. They will not listen when you say to avoid taking a lot of medication, exercise and limit foods that aren't good for you. It's as if they don't want to feel good.

It almost makes me believe that if you told them they had to take a pill and smoke and drink sodas, they wouldn't do it out of sheer contrariness.

*Othello 1996   Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.

*The Man from Down Under  Charles Laughton in the early forties. Improbable and engaging, and oh, what a different world!

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