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Rumilluminations March 2017
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Wed, March 01 2017 - 10:48 am

March 31, 2017
Madison IN

March did not come in like a lion and it is not going out like a lamb. It has been a strange March, with some record high temperatures and maybe even some unusual lows.

The weirdest thing about it to me, though, is the nonwintriness of the season it has followed.

Coming up from the laundry room yesterday, I was glad that it wasn't colder.

A voice inside admonished me, "You had better prepare, though, for colder winter weather ahead."

Well, no. Winter is past. And that is the not the first time I have thought we were still in Fall.

This is the first time I have ever spent a March like it. Never before have I suffered confusion about what season I am entering.

When I was small my family spent three winters in California. I remember them as gray and rainy mud-puddle skipping months. No snow at all. Hardly any Spring either that I could notice. Maybe it was the march towards summer vacation that kept me from experiencing the confusion of seasonal intimation I'm experiencing now.

"I'll take it!" My partner would happily say.

Well, so will I, because tomorrow is April Fool's Day and I can be as batty and confused, as nutty and unpredictable and manic as anyone could desire.

"You're a nutcase!" he is always fondly(?) saying.

Oh, he has no idea.....

*Allied  Retro World War II romance/spy thriller. Very well done. Amazing, though, how nobody else's life is as important as the protagonist's search for the truth. I wonder if it was only after it was given a name - collateral damage - that I began to pay attention to it. Now I wonder at the arrogance of these impassioned arrogant characters.

March 30, 2017
Madison IN

I read a snippet in The Week today that said Baby Boomers were saving the paper industry with their need for and purchases of adult diapers and panty-guards.

This makes me snippy. I absolutely do not believe it. I am one of the early years of boomers and have never purchased those things with regularity except for a few years -for my mother. I absolutely do not believe that most of the individuals in their sixties and seventies I take exercise classes with are wearing those things. However they may, as I was, be purchasing them for others.

Makes you wonder about all those glib demographic statistics, doesn't it? What do they really mean? What do they actually measure?

Maybe all those articles about who we are and what we need are all just so much more "...and blah blah blah...."

*Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress  Very picturesque. The movie added subsequent events that the novel left shrouded in mystery and, in fact, would influence one's thinking. I would be interested to know if these were part of the author's real history and knowledge or added just so as not to leave the audience hanging. But all they did for me was to push the questions to another level and double them. What would be the problem with leaving the story as the novelist did? Life does it to us all the time in uncertain times - whether they are political or personal.

*American Werewolf in Paris Not a genre I would normally entertain, but it was manageable and had some interest. Kind of fun to see Sister Julienne (?) before she became a nun!

March 29, 2017
Madison IN

Indoors for four days straight, I am coughing my way to perfect six-pack abdominals.
Now if I can manage to come out of this with two whole lungs, I will be grateful. Unless I have a relapse I intend to get dressed tomorrow. Yippee!

*Patriot Day  The story of the Boston Marathon bombing with I think highly successful weaving of videos of the actual day with the film dramatization. Interesting throughout. 

March 28, 2017
Madison, IN

I'm reading about Galileo, and stunned to see that his fight with the Church over the reality of the Solar System (that is, the Earth travels around the Sun and not vice versa,  among other facts) happens over 100 years after Luther revolted against the Catholic Church.

Luther seems so progressive - a revolutionary - while Galileo's struggles with the Church seem to show the Church as positively medieval. Somehow, given the fact that we have come so far in scientific understanding, the Galileo struggle seems even farther back in time than it is - a mere 400 years!

I had a similar confusion in my mind about the Islam religion. It seems so archaic and old-fashioned that it is hard to believe it is younger than Christianity. Yes! How did that toss-back in progress happen? And why? I can't help but think it was an unfortunate relapse into an earlier state of psychological being. No wonder the chronology got mixed up in my mind.

I wonder what other disjuncts in timing I have in my mental chronological map.

Maybe it's that kind of confusion that has some evangelical Christians maintaining that the human species rode dinosaurs. You know - the Sun wore a dry unvarying path in the world that was so hot that the dinosaurs couldn't handle it and collapsed but the people just rounded up a few horses and camels and rode them instead. That's how we got Westerns. Er wait  - didn't Westerns come before Jurassic Park? And TV before movies?

Now I am really confused.

March 26, 2017
Madison IN

I've read lately that the first months of the year are the ones in which people most often seek medical help and attention.

It's probably part of that whole beginning/ending phenomenon that we humans seem obsessed with.

But what choice have we? Or do we really have a choice? History necessitates all this parcelling out of time. We could just ignore history. Primitive tribes and communities have been doing it forever.

Of course, now, for most of us it's too late.

Now there's an paradoxical ending for you.

Too late! Now the only thing to do is look forward....

March 25, 2017
Madison IN

This morning I took the recycling to my acquaintances' bin. A man within a decade or two of my age rode by on a bike, taking no notice of me.

Strange. When I was young and pretty good-looking, I like to think, when someone my age ignored me I thought nothing of it. They were merely not interested.

Now that I am pushing seventy, graying and wrinkled, if someone is disinterested, I think he's gay.

Ha ha ha ha ha! Denial is a wonderful thing. And sometimes the more unlikely it is, the more powerful it is.

Or how about this? I was carrying a bag of trash so he thought I was a bag lady.

The odd thing is, I am very happily attached at home and furthermore found the passing bicyclist unattractive.

I'm obviously just an attention hound. I might as well be a three-year-old!

*Welcome to New York  A story behind the story of the French politician whose wife had ambitions for him for the French Presidency who was brought - well I don't want to ruin it for you if you haven't heard. How true is this representation? I'm willing to believe it is probable.

March 24, 2017
Madison IN

March has been really confused and really confusing this year. I don't remember how it came in. Was it like a lion? Then, in the middle, it turned into a polar bear. We needed to put a match to March! Yesterday it was a polar bear in the morning and then, I don't know, maybe a petrol in the afternoon.

Then, today - today! Forget lamb, even a sheared one. Today March was a naked lady. Almost hot! March is confused, so I am too.

I usually look forward to April first. April Fool's Day promises light-hearted fun. This year all I can think about April is that the bathroom in the park across the street will finally open.

People have been out in droves in warm February and every other March day, and the city hasn't unbent enough to open its public bathroom. Does it really cost that much more to have a place for the kids playing in the playground an extra six weeks?

Having hospitable weather without hospitable facilities seems irrational to me. If the weather is pulling people outdoors, adjust! Tear down that sign!

So March is on the march and looks to be going out like a fairy. A water fairy though, for the next few days. Or maybe an otter.

And is that damn bathroom going to spoil my April Fool's Day? Is all I am going to be silly about is a bathroom?

No. I can do better than that. I've still got a week to get giddy. To get giggly. To get gangly and googly-eyed and gleeful.

Spring high, I'm marching your way! April, prepare yourself! This fool is heading for the high light. I will not be denied my folly.

With March and people like me on the march, it's no wonder April has to be cruel.

It's only self-defence.

*The Most Hated Woman in America The story of Madelyn Murray, the woman who challenged prayer in the public schools, and her family and some of her employees. Not a pretty story, but definitely educational.

*Deepwater Horizon What happened out on that oil rig explained and BP does not emerge from the tale looking good. Of course, we already knew that and I try to avoid going to their stations to this day. The acts of individual heroism in this horrific incident are many.

March 23, 2017
Madison IN

I did look up fall color in the southern hemisphere and there is some that is supposed to be spectacular. I got the impression, though, that for sheer variety and spectrum of color, the most spectacular falls might be here in good old North America.

Still, just as skiers and snowboarders travel around the globe for powder snow, fans of autumn can find much to see in the southern hemisphere in April and May. For those of us pretty well entrenched in the northern half of the globe, though, giddy Spring is the order of the day.

Or should be. After an incredibly mild winter, the spring is having second thoughts. The return of the light is hard to appreciate when it is still so cold.

Nevertheless the big waxy hyacinth are blooming and so are the weeping cherries. I'm not sure if the fact that the winds are not full of wonderful spring scents for me is due to the cold temperatures dampening plant physiology or my nose, reacting to tree pollen as it is.

It doesn't matter. Spring is here, and pretty soon it will get around to behaving itself.

*The Edge of Seventeen  Young young young but entertaining as well as exasperating. The assumption that young people will get drunk and have sex and sext foolishly with no consequences beyond a little temporary embarrassment would be a dangerous one for youngsters to adopt. Why this film is mentioned by some in the same breath with Juno is something of a mystery to me. It doesn't come close.

March 22, 2017
Madison IN

Happy Spring! Is it proper etiquette to say Happy Fall to those folks south of the Equator? Or would that sound sarcastic? Is Fall as beautiful down under as it is here?

I don't remember hearing. Somehow I think it is milder down there but I wouldn't know why. I'll do some research and get back to you sometime. Too bad this isn't an interactive site, but I guess we have Facebook for that.


Meanwhile, we have movies.

*The Accountant  Shades of Dexter, but this antihero is no serial killer. Is the ultimate test not falling asleep? Maybe, but this was absorbing, too. (Should the wizard spank Daddy?) Intriguing film. 

Another day

*Life as a House  Different virtues and failings and talents entirely animate this film. What would you do if you had a troubled teenage son and lost your job and - but no, I wouldn't want to ruin this very human film for you.

March 16, 2017
Madison IN

The march of March is half over. Only five or so days of winter left. 

Winter. Poor lost Winter. What happened to it this year?

I hope Spring, which jumped the gun a little this year, hasn't been too marred by Winter's last desperate swipe of vengeance.

April may tell.

*Detour  Kind of a fun film noir but the lead was such a noodle! My disbelief never got off the floor.

*Elle This film will most likely knock your socks off. It did ours.

*Sandstorm  Young middle-Eastern woman inspires our compassion butting up against parental disapproval when she falls in love with a classmate.

March 14, 2017
Madison IN

I'm interested in ways to have a better night's sleep. Rarely do I think the advice I see is practicable, but I'm interested.

Today in the AARP Bulletin I saw advice I had never seen before: change your mattress every ten years.

Now that one I like! In 1996 I bought a brand-new mattress with pads on two sides that cost $623 or or so including tax. On sale supposedly but still, I thought, very expensive. Definitely luxury, but Hell, I work hard.

It was guaranteed for twenty-five years. Too bad I don't remember where I bought it in a different city twenty-one years and three moves since, because it is definitely losing its tone. It's still not the worst mattress I have ever slept on - by far - but it is no longer what it used to be. In fact, I can hardly blame it. After all, for many of those years it has contained double the occupants and probably triple the weight of the original buyer.

The sad fact is that my once-new, once-exciting mattress has gone the way of all mattresses and sags in the middle. One could say in its defence that it is compensating for the bulges of its occupants. But nobody will. The sad fact is that we see mattresses thrown out all the time.

So what if it looks cleaner than most of the rejects? So what if it is still more comfortable than some of the future motel beds that will cost us one-tenth of its purchase price to sleep for one night?

No, we have used it for over twice as long as the allotment prescribed by AARP, and believe me, that has been long enough!

A six year old may still find it supportive enough. Your doggy might feel it's downright luxurious.

The only problem is, I don't think my partner is ready to believe AARP or me and spend the big bucks necessary to invest in a new mattress.

After all, dT and the GOP are ready to throw us out for the crime of not being rich. An old friend of mine is saying they might as well throw her out in the snow right now.

Maybe we'll hang onto this mattress. Yesterday I saw that somebody has set up a bed of sorts underneath the platform by the river. All us Oldies can join the homeless and set up camp down by the riverside.

This mattress might hold four if someone sleeps crosswise.

Then we can use our remaining cash to pay for our food and dental care.

March 13, 2017
Madison IN

I am turning out to be as unreliable and unpredictable as March itself this month.

Everything takes longer than expected. I start to make the bed and notice how dusty the headboard (cum shelves) is and have to dust it. Returning DVDs to the library and stopping at the bank first, I leave them behind and have to go back a block to retrieve them.

Looking at my toothpaste labels and wondering what titanium dioxide is doing in my toothpaste, I have to look it up on the Internet.

Turns out that nanoparticles of the stuff can have an assortment of bad effects, including dementia (of which I am deathly afraid) cancer (not at all an attractive prospect) and another or two which I am evidently not enough afraid of to remember. The article also said it is in "virtually all" processed foods. Those I do try to avoid, but not to the extent of preparing all my own food with a professional chef in the house. Not gonna happen.

With regards to toothpaste, I doubt I will resort to making my own. I already use very little - just a smidgen - which keeps my exposure down. In addition I have resolved to obey the injunction of a dental assistant I saw thirty years ago. She suggested using toothpaste in the morning but not at night. "You don't really need it anyway," suggesting it was mostly desirable for aesthetic reasons.

Great! Now my toothpaste tubes will last twice as long as the eternity they already do. (Heh - just consider that a paradox.)

As for the food prep, I do bake a loaf of bread that my professionally trained life partner says he's very happy with.

I was in the mood this week for a "greed-arousing" sesame millet bread from the Tassajara Bread Book. Lacking enough sesame seed I made up the difference with flaxseed and it came out fine although I wish I had added a little more honey. Lately I read that stone-ground flour comes out the way it went in, content-wise (as opposed to milling which separates, then recombines the wheat kernal). More reason to buy it - I had already decided it makes a superior loaf, easily worth the expense.

March marches on! As I write it is unexpectedly steadily snowing for the second time this winter. Oh, oh! I might have to go out again. The snowflakes have gotten fat!

May the month bring you joy as well as unpredictability!

March 10, 2017
Madison IN

Spring keeps coming in spite of Winter's attempts at a last fling. Every time snow is predicted it doesn't happen. Now they are saying maybe Tuesday but I can't believe it, although I do remember a late-March Easter when it happened to me. But hey, that was northern Indiana. Now we are in the far south of the state.

We might be in the weird position of having snowstorms to the north and south of us while we sit unscathed between them. That would be okay!

We already lost a dozen trees in the woods nearby that we didn't know about until we walked past a group of uprooted downed trunks.

Fruit trees are already in bloom here. We don't need to lose those blossoms to cold and ice and hail. Fruit? I don't know if any of these early-bloomers are fruit-bearing. I hope the real fruit trees hold off flowering for a while longer.

New plant struggling to flower this week - candy-tuft.

*Billy Lynn's Long Half-time Walk A group of young soldiers is used as half-time stage props in a football game. Means well but somehow fails to establish the emotional connection that the director seemed to be seeking.

*Desierto  Psycho versus illegal immigrants in a hostile natural setting which is really the main character. 

*A Tree Grows in Brooklyn  Oldie and goodie, life in a family struggling to get by.

March 7, 2017
Madison IN

How am I a child again? Let me count the ways.

There are so many words I don't know!

I have a lot of free time. No school, no job, no dependents.

I have scabs on my knees.

Technology is beyond me. Of course, when I was a child I don't know if anyone used that word. Machines were above my level of understanding.

I am not in charge of the kitchen where I live.

All I really want to do is read, eat, and go out to play.

In my latest excursions the spring flower count has gone up. Violets, the beginnings of blossoms on flowering weeping cherries, a flowering quince in full bloom, and star magnolias.

I'm the Pokey Little Puppy: "I see something!"

*The Girl on the Train  I felt pretty much about the film as I had about the book: impatient with the protagonist. Makes a pretty good movie, though, although how would I know? I could remember the ending. My partner was pretty restless. I don't think he was much impressed.

March 4, 2017
Madison IN

March is the only month that can act. Does January january? April april?


But March marches - right out of Winter and into Spring. That's admirable!

September might remember but it doesn't september. June doesn't june.

But wait! May - well, it may....

I think month names would be much more fun and easier to remember if they were meaningful. How about some different names. Any ideas?

Like January could be Eternity

February could be Cheat.

March would of course still be March.

April could be Rain or Cruelty - no, cruelty is not also a verb. Maybe April could be Hail.

May might still be May.

June could be Flower.

July - Midsummer. I like the idea of midsummer as a verb. "Midsummer me some delphineum this year, would you?"

August - Sun

September - Dust, maybe, or Daze

October, we could honor with Fall - or maybe that would be confused with the whole season. We could call it Color. It has got to be the most colorful month.

November we could call Munch. What we should be doing all month to save ourselves from depression! Not to mention starvation.

December? Dark - or if you must be more positive, Return.

Ha, ha, that was kind of funny and I didn't know it.

March 3, 2017

Ever since I saw the movie The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie I have wondered about the concept of having a prime of your life.

What could that possibly be? When you are most handsome/beautiful? When the most people of the opposite sex are attracted to you? When your family includes all the children you will have and they are all still at home? When you are at your highest level of employment, or when you are earning the most? When you are physically the strongest?

I can't imagine when I was in my prime. There are too many different pinnacles in too many different areas of my life. In fact, the more I think of it the more Ayn Rand-ish the concept seems to be.

I must confess, though, whatever the concept of prime entails, by now I know I'm pretty well past it. By decades.

Unless, of course, being in my prime means feeling loved, well cared-for, well-entertained and well-pruned (as in beginning to wrinkle like one.)

Maybe, just maybe, I AM still in my prime!

Of luck.

*The Life of Emile Zola  This 1937 Oscar-winning film is strange in that it celebrates Zola's desire for truth-telling with a white-washed version of the real facts around the freeing and reinstatement of Alfred Dreyfus. Ironic. I've been reading Zola for the first time these last couple of years and wish I hadn't waited so long.

*The African Doctor  Native of Zaire and family meet small-town France. Taken from a true story and what a story.

March 2, 2017
Madison IN

Turns out Thursday's high winds here in Madison might have included a tornado touchdown. A marina downstream from here lost a lot of metal roofing which ended up on a nearby field. Huge old trees have fallen on houses. One that had already been removed when we walked by this afternoon displayed a very rotted-out stump. Another huge tree on Main Street has damaged three little homes in one fell swoop. It was pushed over roots and all by the wind so if it was unhealthy we can't yet tell.

None of the trees or branches I saw down had had a chance to leaf out yet.

Our apartment building lost four shingles. Considering the roof shelters fourteen units we weathered the wind, hail and rain pretty well. We saw our landlord up on the roof this morning and he was beaming. Of course, this was the first sunshine we've had for days!

People were saying that the part of town on the hilltop suffered the worst damage, but I didn't see it between home and the gym. Maybe we should take a driving tour.

We probably won't, but if we do I'll report!

March 1, 2017
Madison IN

March has come in like a lion, all right, with sirens, high winds, rain, lightning, and a tornado watch here in Madison.

The storm kept us indoors watching a movie (see below.)

It's probably avoidance of all the negative that is going on politically and socially in the U.S. right now (stupid lying speeches, threats against Jewish schools and schoolchildren, ugly white supremacist incidents, all of which abound in the news) but I am contemplating the word March.

Not so much the multiple meanings and multiple uses this year. More the sheer sound of it.

March doesn't have many rhyming words. Arch, yes, but no barch, carch, darch or farch. No garch harch jarch or karch.

Then we get a couple consonants with larch (a tree), march itself, and parch (dry). No narch, though. Or rarch.

Starch (stiffening agent or stiffness itself) will be followed by tarch, varch, warch, xarch, yarch and zarch - not.

What is the point of this exercise, you may ask. No point - except to illuminate the mysteries of English and ruminate on the consequences of being kept home and indoors by the weather!

One more thing, though. Modern technology made it very difficult to write this passage about what is not but could be. I had to specially protect every one of my non-words from automatic "correction" by the "program."

Think about it's effect on your thinking, not to mention your freedom and time management.

I could have written it more quickly in longhand.

*Pink  Eastern Indian film very similar in theme to a movie I saw on t.v. when I was very young about a woman's right to deny sex to a male. Different circumstances, sure, but it is interesting to see essentially the same point being made fifty years later. This film was long, but very involved with unexpected twists and turns. Of special interest to my partner was the way the characters floated between Hindi (?) and English.

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