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Rumilluminations January 2017
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sun, January 01 2017 - 9:54 pm

January 31, 2017
Madison IN

Since I've been extolling the attractions of that big city, Cincinnati, I guess I should tell you, including our big city neighbors, about one of the wonders of Madison, the local coffee shop The Red Roaster. Recently I actually ordered a latte there - an unusual move on my part because we live only two blocks away.

It was a revelation! I complimented its maker and asked about the process. He told me he used 2% steamed milk. Well, I admit at home I use half almond milk to cut the fat (and naturally occurring sugars) and I microwave it. I also cannot afford to buy Red Roaster coffee all the time anyway.

But wow! My advice if you want to indulge yourself - do try the coffee decorated with a red rooster!

When we were at the Cincinnati Art Museum we saw a Chagall painting featuring a red rooster floating in the foreground.

On this first day of our too-brief visit to Cincinnati, I nevertheless had a pang of nostalgia for Main and West Streets in Madison - home of the Red Roaster.

January 30, 2017
Madison, IN

I never did finish telling you about our Cincinnati trip!

One of our destinations was conceived at Planet Fitness, when upon hearing about our trip to Newport a young man asked, "Are you going to Dewey's Pizza? You've got to go there! It's the best!"

In the car I told my partner what he had said, except I had heard (or remembered) "Dilly's Pizza." Later on my partner, having seen the sign or a computer ad, referred to it as "Dizzy's."

No matter! Since you know it is in the Newport complex on the levee - the one near the purple people bridge - it is easy to find on the mezzanine.

Warning! There are lots of choices! The experience will involve wistful deprivation as well as yummy fulfillment. Ah, but that gives you all the more to look forward to in the future. We shared a harvest salad and a Green Lantern pizza - both very tasty.

Friendly staff everywhere!

After pizza we stopped at an art gallery on the main floor chock full of the work of local painters and a photographer or two (Hi, Christina!) There were cards also, and jewelry and probably a ton of other arts and crafts, but we were exhausted by our big day in Cincinnati and environs and ready to stumble off home to our hotel room.

The next morning we headed home via Richmond, IN. The weather was snowy, windy, and cold so we didn't stop until we got closer to New Castle and, guided by our GPS, recounted a truck stop Indian buffet that we accidentally found once before. The food is God there.

Well, that's not what I wrote, or at least what I intended to write. I meant to say the food is good there.

Ha, ha, I have had to make a myriad of typing corrections today.

I would say I'm all thumbs, but well, that's obvious and considering I write from my Kindle, meaningless.

One of these days, though, I am just going to let all the errors, editions, and glitches stand.

Hell, it would probably be more entertaining than the text intentional!

January 28, 2017 
Madison IN

Another New Year! Yippee!

I bet if I cast around a little I can find myself a few more New Year's Days to celebrate. After all, for quite a few cultures the emergence from the throes of winter is what constitutes a new beginning. It's only when we get all astronomically sophisticated that we start celebrating the bare germ of returning light rather than the palpable return of birds, leaves, and blossoms!

Today I didn't go all culturally appropriate. I merely ate good food, had some good exercise and a walk, and caught up on some current developments in the news. These were nothing to celebrate, so I won't dwell on them.

This is New Year's Day! New realizations! New insights! New outlooks!

Go get 'em.

January 27, 2017
Madison, IN

I'm getting mixed messages about when Chinese New Year is, so I am celebrating it tomorrow, not today.

Instead I will write about our Cincinnati afternoon.

After lunch at Shanghai Mama's we went to the Hilton Hotel Carew Tower on the advice of our new friend at Fabulous Frames on 4th Street. Following her instructions we took the express elevator up to the 45th floor, then a smaller one for another few floors followed by a few flights of stairs. This led us to a tiny room where we paid four dollars per person to go out on an observation deck from which we could see Cincinnati in every direction. If it wasn't a sunny day, it was at least very bright for January and the temperature was in the high fifties.

It was from a young man we met in the Carew Tower that we heard there was a horseshoeing convention going on in Cincinnati. We hadn't heard. I wonder how many conventions were taking place while we were in town? It didn't seem in the least overrun.

After our overview of the city we decided it was s time to go back to the hotel - by foot. We walked across town, over the purple people bridge (luckily with no encounters with Purple People Eaters) and back along the Newport Levee to our hotel where we collapsed!

January 26, 2017
Madison, IN

Back home again, in Indiana... first I'm going to write about yesterday morning in Cincinnati.

We took a shuttle from our hotel on Riverboat Row to the fountain square in Cincinnati and immediately set about the serious business of getting in out of the cold by walking across Vine Street to The Booksellers, which opens at 7:00 in the morning. How refreshing is that? Well, it is open early because it has a coffee counter.

We had just had coffee at the hotel, so we looked at books. Lo and behold, I found a whole table dedicated to Charley Harper, an artist whose work I was introduced to a few years ago via a jigsaw puzzle of a night bird migration.

I liked it but did not research the artist. What do you know, Charley Harper spent the better part of his life in Cincinnati, so he is well represented here. True to nature, stylized and whimsical, I like his work quite a bit. I loved the wonderful art books but contented myself with a block set comprised of six puzzles solved by setting the cubes right. It's my elder grandson's next birthday present. I love to shop ahead.

Bravo, Booksellers, for early opening and giving us the name, address, and telephone number of Fabulous Frames and Art on 4th Street, where we were able to see more Charley Parker reproductions and tiles and other objects. My partner scored a cloth there he plans to use as a table covering -kind of a rectangular runner. The proprietor of that gallery was a charmer who not only told us more about Charley Parker, but also about Shanghai Mama's Restaurant where we had lunch.

After the Booksellers, though, we had more time to kill. We walked around, gawking at the architecture. We tried the doors of a big old Presbyterian church (locked) and saw a wonderful synagogue (also locked) but got lucky with (my partner said, "Of course!") a Catholic Church, the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains, which looked small from the front entrance but was really quite spacious. The large impressive masterpiece was a mosaic, and the stained glass windows echoed the mosaic effect except abstract instead of representational. An imposing building.

Then there was City Hall nearby! I only ran in there for a short while but wow! Marble and stained glass and tiles, oh my! A motif I saw repeated in the stained glass made me wonder until I zapped: of course! It should have been obvious, but I'm not going to ruin the surprise by telling you about it.

We finished up our morning with a yummy early lunch in the small dark carved wooden environs of Shanghai Mama's and thus ended our Cincinnati morning. I'll tell you about our later adventures tomorrow.

January 25, 2017
Newport, KY

Up at 7:45 after a mere twelve hours in bed.

Late yesterday afternoon we went to the Hofbrauhaus Restaurant on Washington Street in Newport. We had some fine food and a wheat beer made on the premises served in very tall relatively narrow glasses. I just drank a little and didn't feel light-headed at all but even I could tell I was being a little... strange. My partner called me a little tipsy. So be warned! By the way, it tasted good.

Craft beers are quite amazing to me. I have never liked beer - actually almost hated it when I used to try what was commonly sold. Lately though, sampling craft beers, I have rather liked them, and what do you know I now think beer is good!

Reminds me of my coffee awakening, which was a much more sudden epiphany I experienced in the patio of a Mexican Hotel when, aged 23 or so, I had my very first wonderful cup of coffee.

It has happened forty-five years later with regards to beer. Thanks, Hofbrauhaus Restaurant! One of Newport, Kentucky's many blessings.

Today has been so interesting and exciting I will have to record our experiences over several days. I believe we have had the variety and novelty of experience we needed to tide us through the dark (if not cold - there has been virtually no cold!) of this current winter.

January 24, 2017
Cincinnati, OH

Well, to be literal, we are in Newport, KY but we have just spent the afternoon at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

First we plunged into ancient artifacts. It has probably been years since I saw any of those, so of course they were of interest. Still, the African continent was probably better represented or maybe just more novel to my experience.

In a gesture of respect to our host city, we spent some time in the Cincinnati Wing. After all, admission is FREE when there are no special exhibits on display. We saw wonderful landscapes by Robert S. Duncanson, who was working right before the Civil War. What an achievement, that he was able to do anything in those times. He even managed to obtain some European sponsorship.

The Cincinnati Wing furniture was ornate, to speak wildly. We saw more three-dimensionally carved wooden furniture than any I have seen before in my life, including a bed the headboard of which was so towering and heavy that I would be afraid to sleep under it!

We enjoyed the 20th century artists the best, though. It was like taking a fun art history exam. Chagall. Correct! Roualt - right on! We saw one Georgia O'Keefe and a few Picassos. There are a couple Van Gogh paintings I never saw before.

The courtyard looks as if it would be a nice place to hang out in another season. Though it has hardly been a wintry January, it has been a briskly chill day. Inside the cafe-style eatery we sat down to coffee which wasn't bad at all.

We did have lunch near our hotel, at the Buckhead Mountain Grill. At eleven a.m. in the morning the service was excellent, the food more than satisfactory, and the prices very reasonable. The restaurant offers a great riverview including an interesting sight of the hill across the way. Who could want for more?

January 22, 2017
Madison IN

I swear I have read somewhere that the brain itself doesn't distinguish one strong odor from another. The impression I retained from my reading is that the olfactory nerves send impulses to the brain which then uses other stimuli such as visual imagery or maybe memory triggers to correctly "interpret" what the smell is.

Interesting. That might be a way to add the scent of smell to the experience we have during movie-watching in the theater. The management could waft something strong-smelling (maybe a kind of emotionally neutral or unfamiliar scent) into the screening rooms at specified times during the film and, depending what we are seeing on the screen, we could experience the appropriate smell.

Maybe that could have the potential to be too gross, though. It's bad enough to have to see people graphically throwing up on-screen without having to also smell it!

It might result in a whole theater populated by gasping and heaving patrons.

Quick! Think lilacs!

January 21, 2017
Madison IN

Today was a highly memorable day for the protest marches for women, immigrants, blacks, Muslims and all other oppressed groups in the U.S. A banner day and so far a peaceful one.

Now all we need to do is keep up the energy and enthusiasm going to change the balance of power at midterms.

The point has been made that the Republicans are not a monolithic homogeneous group and that they will have trouble ramming through all the policies they think they want. I hope this is true.

I did not demonstrate. I did not go to a big city I don't live in to join the throngs. I never have.

Theoretically I could have demonstrated in our small town, but honestly? I don't think there was a demonstration at all.

The last time I demonstrated was for the Affordable Care Act in Valparaiso, IN - a town three times the size of Madison and Hanover put together.

For some reason I didn't bother to look into the possibility of attending a demonstration here. There is probably an alphabet of reasons why: a is for apathy, b is for boredom with political rhetoric, c is for conservative community, d is for delay, e is for etc.

I was with the demonstrators in spirit though, and didn't the marchers make a wonderful display of that!

Peaceful, friendly, calm, and patient. And what numbers! Masses of people demonstrated in cities all over the world. What a day! We will remember it and the images of standing crowds of people too many to be counted forever.

January 20, 2017
Madison IN

I wake up in the morning. Sometimes I have interesting dreams and they give me ideas to write about. This morning I had a dream that people were telling me that some things have to be accomplished with work and money, but other things have to be done with love.

In my dream, therefore, I was caring for an eighteen-month-old named Tina. I don't know how that applies to my waking life, but hello, Tina! I love you!

As the day goes on, I have amusing or odd ideas that sometimes I act on. Today at exercise class we were doing an exercise called "Barbie Doll Walk" when I remembered that the janitor's name was Ken. I called out that we were doing Barbie Doll for Ken. Later he laughed about it and commented his ex-wife was named Barbara! An added dimension to the incident.

I think of other amusing (to me) commentary, political and social, as I walk for more exercise around the Hillside Inn. Of course, by the time I arrive back home to my Kindle I have forgotten all that.

Later yet I am morose about politics, the state of the nation, and global warming, but what else is new.

After dark tonight I will be reduced to nonsense, portmanteau words, and maybe, only if I am lucky, some deeply unconscious punnery.

I had to write now - before it's too late.

*Clerks  Zingy, funky, funny, disjointed, existential absurdity, the whole twentieth century package in black and white. Oh, see it anyway.


*Hold The Man  Beautiful young people, beautiful film, and I can't say any more without ruining it. What - you want me to talk about - no, I refuse to be a spoiler.

January 18, 2017
Madison IN

People have been rushing me my whole life.

I was even a forceps baby, for somebody or something's sake.

In the past I thought that was probably for my own good - or at least for the good of my mother.

Now, though, I am beginning to wonder. Evidently doctors are beginning to perform Cesarean sections on a much higher percentage of women than they used to. I can believe some of that number might be due to worsening maternal health leading to more complications, but not all.

I remember a new mother complaining way back in the seventies about a doctor socking her in the stomach during labor because she had previously refused to schedule a Caesarian delivery. This was just the way her doctor liked to deliver. It was his modus operandi.

Well as far as I'm concerned that was a crime. Unnecessary cutting into someone's abdomen sounds like battery to me - and now more doctors are doing it. I guess it's for convenience and control.

So now, of course, I have to wonder about my own birth.

It's down on my birth certificate as being at 8:05 a.m.

Hmm, suggestive. I can just imagine the possible dialogue:

Doctor, having just punched in for the day: Well, good morning, Mrs. Powell. Are you ready to have this baby?

My mother, wailing: Aaaa.... Get this thing OUT OF ME!

Doctor: Sounds to me like a good way to start the day. Let's get the job done. Forceps!

Baby me: Waaaa!

Adult me: Whaa... we have an appointment... where? ...?

Oops, gotta go!


January 15, 2017
Madison IN

In the past I have written about how household moves might affect children - or at least, me as a child.

Now, however, I am beginning to wonder if these moves affect most people more than they realize.

My family moved across town before I can even remember. When I was three or four we moved across the country from northern Indiana to California, then back again three years later.

Maybe that's why I start getting restless after a few years in one place!

Last year we started thinking about a move to New Mexico this year which will probably not happen at least for a couple years, and I'm getting restive.

I'm hopping back and forth on the branch: upriver, downriver; upriver, downriver.

Flap, flap.


Flap flap flap flap flap!

January 13, 2017
Madison IN

I don't know what kind of resolutions you all have made for this year. I haven't made any, except I think it is probably a good year to stand firm in the belief that I have the ability to stand up for the civil rights of myself and others should push come to shove in our newly "great" America.

There is no reason to think I will have to in this small red and white town, and there is even less reason to think I can if put to the test.

My resolution for this year, I guess, is to try to behave with more balance and dignity than I usually have, and to recognize that maybe this year is going to be a year in which I can resist shaking people up.

Maybe this year is a year to help things stay calm.

*Fathers and Daughters  Intense, absorbing, passionate and finally - well, I don't want to give away anything at all. Definitely worth seeing.

Recently seen

*The Usual Suspects Saw this a long time ago, but even that was enough to tip off my memory and kind of ruin for me, even though I didn't follow it all that well. In sad fact, I fell asleep. But maybe you won't.

*Hell and High Water  An understated contemporary Western - action-packed and laid-back, fraught and serene.

January 12, 2017
Madison IN

Right now I'm suffering from performance anxiety. Well mine, sure. I just had the idea (realization?) that maybe my word program won't offer up IN as a possibility after a comma is because the City, State conventions no longer apply when using the official post office abbreviation for a state. Is the proper form now City State?

If so, how long has that new rule been in effect? How out of it am I?

I'm also suffering performance anxiety about my pen/typewriter/device's battery status. In the immediate sense, my battery is low. In the long term sense, will my battery last as long as I need it to?

Have you ever felt performance anxiety for your kid?

The worst! Well, I am not suffering from that!

January 9, 2017 
Madison IN

Of my symptoms of mental aging, I think I like aphasia least. Sure, it is embarrassing not to be able to remember people's names, but lots of the people I speak to claim to have the same problem and I can pretend to believe that they are not just being polite.

When I say Vietnamese when I mean veteran, however, it is obvious that the arrow hasn't reached the target though the association is clear.

I'm quite capable of saying a completely unrelated wrong word after getting the initial letter out.

It is true that I did this when I was younger but then I called it a Freudian slip because it involved an embarrassing, possibly revealing double-entendre. That still happens now, but with a new variation: it has no meaning whatsoever.

That's embarrassing - and depressing. At least it does not happen too often.

Physical symptoms of aging might be worse. In one week I have broken a glass and a cup. Breaking crockery is something I used to do less often than once a year.

Maybe we had better not be too anxious to get rid of breakable even if we seem oversimplified.

Hmmm... that can be my excuse! I'm not getting clumsier, I'm just getting more impatient and careless with our overstuffed cupboards.

Sigh. Another symptom of grouchy old age.

January 7, 2017
Madison IN

My second day of Epiphany gift to you is to hope for you not gold and frankincense and myrrh but a good solid warm home and tasty healthy food and enough weather-appropriate clothing and health to take you outside.

All the way outside, that is: Outside the house, outside the town, outside the city, to where the magic of the world is working through something other than people.

It's hard to believe, isn't it, that we could exist without mirrors? That we humans did live without mirrors?

Why, without mirrors and photographs, how do we know we are real?

How do we know how we look?

Well, my hope for you is that YOU do the looking.

My gift to you is yourself.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

I have a lot of nerve, don't I?

... but think about it.

January 6, 2017
Madison IN

Today is Epiphany, the day for celebrating gift-giving on a human (albeit kingly) level as opposed to the gift of the Divine, so I thought I might give you three.

One is the observation that the "spiritual" attracts material awards. I'm inclined to suspect that personal charisma arouses people to a desire for they don't know what. After all, why did the wise men stop following the famous star when they did?

Since when did a heavenly body park itself somewhere in particular? Finding the Savior under that star would be like finding that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Somebody's charm and charisma caught those wise men, perhaps in conjunction with a particularly long and trying day. Maybe Mary's. Oh, and of course, babies always have charisma!

Some gift, you might say. How cynical!

Well, okay then. I'll stop at one gift for today. I myself, though, almost always see a different way of looking at something as a gift. The new perception creates so many options!

January 5, 2017
Madison, IN

We saw an Anthony Jeselnik special this evening as part of our Daily Laugh for Abs campaign. He is darkly funny. Humorously dark.

Anyway, he told a story about trading his dad's Micky Mantle baseball card worth thousands of dollars for a candy bar.

Wouldn't it be ironic if his dad was the boy to whom I gave a Mickey Mantle baseball card right out of the bubblegum pack when I was maybe five or six years old? (That would have been around 1952, I guess.)

That would be poetic justice, maybe, but his dad would have to have been living in the area of Stanford Village, California at the time and then subsequently moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

But then why not? It was graduate student housing and my family ended up in Valparaiso, IN.

If that was Anthony's dad, Anthony should have by all rights given me half of that candy bar.

But, oh, no. Not Anthony! He's living his dream!

*The Recruit  I always have loved movies that jerk you around. This one does. So satisfying for us vicariously masochistic types!

January 4, 2017
Madison, IN

I read lately that jobs translating are going to be some of the up-and-coming occupations in the next few years. 

Ya think? The translations on Facebook are so terrible that I usually ignore invitations to rate them.

They are so bad that the old admonition kicks into overdrive in my mind and "since I can't say anything nice" I just "don't say anything at all."

Now there have to be plenty of competent linguists out there who should be able to do this job - aren't there?

Then again, in all fairness, how would I know?

I can't even understand a half of what the young are saying even when they are writing in English! Even American English!

Other people are laughing at jokes.

I am moaning, "The horror! The horror!"

January 2, 2017
Madison IN

The second day of the year has been quite gray and misty here in Madison, Indiana. Foggy, even. It makes the new year seem quite mysterious.

Well, it is! Who knows what the year will bring?

Owls, or howls?

Secrets or solutions?

Rapprochement, or revolutions?

Judging from the recent puns I have seen on Facebook, I think the new year will bring us corn.

Lots of corn.

Probably GMO corn.

January 1, 2017
Madison IN

Took my New Year's Day constitutional on the Heritage Trail. On my return trip I paused on the descent approaching the creek because the woods were alive with birds. Downy woodpeckers, I think, and flickers for sure, with taps indicating a larger species nearby. Nuthatches and cardinals and juncos maybe a brown creeper  and probably a tufted titmouse interspersed with teeny birds that were too quick to see well on a cloudy day.

I was out later than usual, so maybe they were seizing the warm part of the day to forage. Sure, it's been relatively warm, but honestly? From all the bird life, one would have thought it was Spring.

*In The Land of Women  Kind of a quiet movie, a gentle movie, mostly. Good wholesome fare after all the bloody Homicide: Life on the Streets we have been viewing these last few weeks.

Especially the Vincent d'Onofrio episode we saw this morning.
What a thing to watch on New Year's Day! Hope I don't see something like that every day of the year. That good, yes. But not like that.

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