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Rumilluminations April - May 2017
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sat, April 01 2017 - 12:18 pm

May 29, 2017
Madison IN

I, like almost everyone in the U.S. these days, use a razor. I don't change my razor blades as often as most, so I must have a fairly high tolerance of razor blades that are not ideally sharp. Unlike many people, though, I have two razors.

One of them is a Gillette Mach 3, which I originally bought for my dad at the recommendation of one of his caregivers in rehab (the young man who shaved him in the mornings.)

The other is a three-blade razor also, one ordered for me on the Internet by my partner (along with one for himself) in hopes we would be able to save money. It has no name emblazoned on it - just a big 3.

I think we have saved money, but not because I am using the cheaper razor. I use both. For a while I was using them one at a time. I'd use the cheap one for a while, then, when it started being almost painful to use I'd switched over to the Gillette, which feels more graceful in the hand.

I noticed something odd, though. Once in a while I would think my partner had changed my blades. Picking up the razor that had last caused me grief, it would seem fine.

"Did you change out my blades in this razor? They're working better."

"No, I don't mess with your stuff." (He always gets a little defensive. (It wasn't an accusation!))

As a result of my experiencing of my blades' self-sharpening properties, I am going to go out on a limb (one of my favorite places to hang!)

I suggest that, when left untouched, the molecules of the metal blade, having a natural polarization too great to allow them to be microwaved, might have the tendency to wiggle around and orient themselves to the same pattern they were left in when they came out of the assembly line in the factory - most likely a more orderly polarization than they would have after several shaving sessions.

This Brownian? movement returning the molecules remaining at the edge of the blade to their original positions would result in a sharper blade.

Try my technique for prolonging the life of razor blades.

Resting between is beneficial for wool and bras and shoes - why not blades?

See if it works for you.

May 28, 2017
Madison IN

I was offline on my Kindle for most of the day today. This morning I was busy with laundry and walking. I went by the prickly pear I wrote about a few days ago to make sure there weren't two patches which I had confused. Sure enough, there is only one patch and I have, with all the cloudy rainy weather, missed my chance to photograph it looking brilliant and pristine.

Photography really is a friend of the moment, as a photographer whose name I have forgotten said. Well, maybe I'll catch a similar moment next year.

Late this afternoon I managed to figure out how to get back online. The key involved "forgetting it". I was not reared to give up so easily in such seemingly minor circumstances. A stumbling block.

I was kind of sorry though. It is scrumptious fun to read all afternoon on what was supposed to be a rainy day debating whether or not to indulge in tea or an alcoholic beverage. So far I have not. Dashiell Hammett's characters did it for me.

With pictographs of bolts of lightning and rain along with 80% prediction of rain being not uncommon these days it's a wonder anyone schedules picnics any more. Half the time the rain doesn't even appear until the evening. Plenty of time for running around outside without getting wet, if we aren't discouraged first.

Stretch, yawn... I'm speculating about what I might eat next.

Sometimes getting discouraged is the most luxurious thing that can happen to you!

Sybarite, log out!

May 26, 2017
Madison IN

*The Clearing Thriller that maintains interest throughout, largely by means of two story lines which seem contemporaneous, but also because the performances are fine enough that we suffer along with the characters without threatening us with cardiac arrest. 


*Seasons This is a French film which doesn't concern itself much with where its footage is shot. It tells a story about the degradation of the great forests of France, at least for the wildlife that was there centuries ago. Wonderful shots of animals in the wild. One "mountain man" would be lucky to see so much action in the wild in his whole life. Aren't we lucky, but I could have done without the historical elements. This narrative was all over the place.

*Sleepless  Action and suspense set in Las Vegas ensure that you won't be sleepy, but what a mess these characters make.

May 25, 2017
Madison IN

Ha, ha, this morning I was talking about the gobbledygook of the Mormon bible, and a woman breathing to me about how parts of it are "really beautiful."

I said to my partner, "So are parts of the King James version of the Christian bible." (Yes, I know, some Mormons call themselves Christians but I don't know why.)

My partner's response?

"All bibles belong under glass."

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

May 23, 2017
Madison IN

A few days ago during intermittently rainy weather, I seized an hour to go on a walk. Trudging through an alley I saw a pathetic mess of prickly pear cactus. I scowled at it, feeling more than a little prickly myself. "Why don't they just tear it out and throw it away? It's obviously not happy. It doesn't belong here." This in spite of the fact that it had knobs that looked as if it had fruited at some point. I shrugged. Who cared? It looked rotten. 

Today (not a week later, I swear) walking along the same alley, I saw the bloomingest stand of bright yellow prickly pear blossoms brilliant in the sun that I have ever seen anywhere - even in that dry state, New Mexico.

Even the cactus pads which before had looked discolored and almost dead, now looked fresh and spring green, turgid and healthy.

This not a quarter mile from the north edge of the Ohio River.

I take it back, I take it all back. Hollyhocks and roses couldn't be a more welcome sight than those little waxy yellow suns!

May 19, 2017
Madison IN

How did I not hear about Mike Pence's 1988 financial shenanigans that cost him an election that year before the November 2016 election which made him Vice President?

Don't get me wrong - I didn't vote the Pence/Trump ticket. I did think, however, that they were kind of an odd couple ticket.

Turns out not so. Pence and Trump are both concerned not with what is right and good, but only with whether what they want to do is technically legal - that is, if there is any danger of them getting caught.

This is actually good news, because now it is clear that if Trump goes, Pence - a bird of the same feather - will go down with him.

Hallelujah! Now, who is next on the list of succession?

*Enemy of the State  An absorbing, exhausting thriller. If I saw it when it came out in the nineties, I didn't take it seriously enough as a commentary on American surveillance. Now I consider the reporting is probably pretty accurate. No, I know it is just a story... but how many satellites are up there, really? Makes me want to take a couple of changes of clothes with me when I go on a walk even though I am doing nothing subversive! Just as a matter of principle. And I never do anything just on principle.


*Crazy in Love  Inappropriately titled and really superficial, but it has its moments. Maybe not worth the time, because it doesn't bestow any insights.

May 17, 2017
Madison IN

I've got the writer's block or the writers' block. What block would that be?


Building blocks for writers? That would be words? Letters? Sentences? Chapters? Paragraphs?

I don't really have writer's block. Knock on wood.

My head?

May 16, 2017
Madison IN

The neighborhood's going downhill.

The park in front of our apartment building has had one full-grown tree removed and another scheduled for removal soon in order to allow the building of a new riverboat styled play structure.

The ironic thing about this is that a public meeting wherein citizens will be able to voice concerns, opinions, and objections about this new plan most likely won't happen before the biggest sources of afternoon shade in the park are gone! That loss of shade is my biggest concern.

The park is not huge, but it is certainly big enough that even a large play structure should not have necessitated the removal of well established shade trees.

I am sick about it.

*Parched  Glorious film that is also difficult to watch for the abuse portrayed. Well acted, visually rich, one of the few films I would be delighted to watch again. Set in the desert region of Jaisalmer, India.


*All We Had  Merely okay, if that.

May 15, 2017
Madison IN

I'm reading a book right now about the differences between introverts and extroverts. I'm looking forward to seeing if she (the author) talks about the experiences of ambiverts like myself. (Ha, ha, I almost said omniverts. Well, maybe that is what I am!)

I wonder if other ambiverts have experiences like mine. Here is a typical one:

I agree to volunteer at one of the gardens being displayed on a tour which is a fundraiser, at least partly for the organization which owns the house where the garden is located.

Arriving on time and appropriately dressed, I learn a little about the house, meet some new people, act as one of the hosts and garden guides. I may commit a slight faux pas or two, but no big deal. We're all human.

I have a good time, enjoying the camaraderie and the beautiful weather. My good maintains throughout the evening, and go to bed feeling fine.

Next thing I know, it is four or five o'clock in the morning, and I'm in a metaphorical cold sweat about my insensitivity and my possibly inappropriate comments and subject matter.

I have fears that I have bored, angered, or otherwise alienated people.

This doesn't happen every time I socialize, but often enough to make me wonder. Is this a typical ambivert experience?

Does it make me an introvert who should behave more like one and socialize less?

Or does it make me one of those rare, possibly unique individuals called an omnivert, who turns himself inside out while rotating in circles every week or so?

A mystery.

May 13, 2017
Madison IN

It turns out that the zika virus may not at all be the cause of the scourge of microencphaly that has been visited upon some of Brazil's babies. Now the speculation is that the culprit is a larvacide used in that country against mosquitos.

Could it really have been put into the water supply there? Could it be toxic runoff that for some reason was not able to be removed from household water supplies?

I have read that Trump has instructed his new head of the EPA to undo many of the protections our government has imposed for us during the last twenty years against both pesticides and air pollution.

I haven't written about Trump much since the election because the stories of his actions are well reported for those who want to hear about them, and because his actions are so depressing.

His failure to care about public health, though, has got to be one of his worst sins.

There is more than one way to commit treason!

*Love and Friendship  Somehow this just did not resonate with me except as sheer farce. I must have read it and forgotten - it sure did seem familiar.

May 11, 2017
Madison, IN

Maybe one symptom of descent into senility is having less and less to say. On the other hand, some of the stuff I read makes me more and more hopeful I can escape dementia for a while longer. For instance, diet sodas are now considered to put you more at risk for Alzheimer's. I have never liked them. Nasty, nasty!

Sleep is supposed to be good for the mind. Too bad my partner's phone wakes me up so often when I try to nap. I wonder if other people have this problem. I mean in a big society-affecting way. It sure happens a lot in the movies. In fact, phone calls in movies frequently awaken me.

Now I feel kind of guilty about waking my mother (years ago) coming into the house. I wouldn't intentionally wake her, but it did happen. But oh, come to think of it, she didn't suffer much from confusion until her last year or two.

Ha, ha, come to think of it, Mom never seemed to feel confused. She just "knew" wrongly. Well, Hell, a lot of us suffer from that!

*A Man Called Ove  Combo comedy and pathetique. Did go on a bit but we liked it.

*Hidden Figures  Ha, ha, if it didn't convey so much the wrong impression I would have preferred the title, "Calculating Women." This is really an inspiring film - as well as quite an insight as to how bad segregation on the basis of sex and race still was in the sixties. Strange to go back in time to when a "computer" denoted a human being.

May 8, 2017
Madison IN

Today I am walking by the county courthouse at one o'clock and it chimes twelve. I did not know it even chimed the hours, although I knew some entity other than the Methodist Church does.

Yesterday I picked up two bright shiny dimes and a nickel on my way to (and from) a volunteer shift at the Costigan House. Unfortunately no visitors came for my second shift of this year. Come on, folks, it is an architecturally interesting place! I'm sure there are many citizens of Madison, Indiana who have not seen it. Learn your town!

408 W. Third Street, Madison, IN.  Open 1:00 to 4:30 Friday through Monday except (this month) Mother's Day. $4.00 admission.

There are many other interesting things to see here in Madison. Today was the perfect spring day tomorrow stroll around viewing the local bloom. Azaleas and irises are at their height.

Yesterday I saw goslings for the first time this spring. They are already a foot long! Where do these geese manage to hide for so long?

Well, I must confess that I tend to respect their privacy. Not a good habit if you want to learn intimately about nature.

*Playing for Keeps

May 7, 2017
Madison IN

Warning: Some might think the following subject is indelicate. I think it is an important health issue.

We humans started out by squatting outdoors in nature to poop. As populations grew, this turned out to be a very unsanitary habit.

We developed clean technology for handling poop and pooping.

The only trouble is, we've made it so we can no longer eliminate our waste effectively.

At the same time we have become better at removing feces from our environment, we have started having trouble removing waste from us.

Trying to remedy the situation, our inventors have provided us with little stools to put in front of our toilets. The idea is to put our feet on the stool, thus improving the angle of our colon for elimination. In fiddling around with this, though, I have found that lifting my buttocks off the toilet seat at the same time helps even more. You can feel the difference in the pressure on your intestines!

In other words, lifting your legs isn't enough. The true squat is still really the best position, and the closer you can get to that the better. Unfortunately, this position does not do anything for the cleanliness of your toilet seat.

(Years ago my husband had read about this problem. The text he perused suggested squatting backwards on the toilet seat. We tried it, and although awkward, it seemed to work just fine. At least until we broke a toilet seat. Oops!)

Ironic, isn't it? All this fancy gleaming equipment and we would really just be better off with a water tank and a hole in the floor leading to the same system of pipes and sewage treatment.

We definitely need to lose the seat that some call affectionately "the throne."

*A Kind of Murder  This starts out interesting, then just gets more and more inexplicable and irrational as it progresses. Just doesn't make any sense at all. Weird.

May 5, 2017
Madison, IN

*Jackie This film a disappointment, not only because I was hoping for much more information and illustration of Jackie in later life, but also because it did not succeed very well at humanizing her in the narrow time it chose to cover. First time ever I have disliked a performance by Natalie Portman.

*Miss Sloan  We started this a week or so ago and returned it by mistake, so the first and second parts seemed almost like different films. Really a cold nasty movie about political lobbying, but by the end I had warmed up to it a lot.

May 4, 2017
Madison IN

Raining in my brain - water-logged gray matter painting pictures of sun-drenched flowers wishful thinking in the vase of my cranium.

May is April-raining and the main burst of Spring bloom taken over his year by April. I'm a fool for blooming and a blooming fool for flowers straining against the clasps of their sepals' grasp. 

This chain of showery days is a sting of plain pain for sane would-be plowers who would be sowers of showers of grain. Cloudy rainings are stones sown in the paths of those who would stroll in the sun. Now they blow mists against their windows and glower.

The days have their power. They are what they are.

They are what they hour.

*Second Coming Very slow-moving, very still movie. Lots of waiting and wondering.

*Come and Find Me  Quite a mystery which seemed pretty original to me before it bogged down a little too much for my taste. Still, neither of us watching it fell asleep!


*The Meddler This wasn't quite the caricature I expected from the previews and the first few scenes of the film.  Human, not a farce - except for maybe a few silly moments.

May 2, 2017
Madison IN

Let's see... my latest Alzheimer's report about me....

I haven't been saying the wrong words as much lately, but I have noticed a disconcerting confusion in time-telling when I look at my non-digital watch. Sometimes I really confuse 1:10 with 10:50. I have to tell myself, no, surely it is not still morning or vice versa. Given that Alzheimer's patients sometimes get so they can't draw a clock face at all this is a truly terrifying development, even if it has only happened twice.

When I was making coffee and my breakfast cereal this morning I had some insight as to possible reasons music helps Alzheimer's patients remember. I wondered if it had to do with neural learning pathways being oriented towards words and/or sounds. I know I have read that children learn better when there is a song associated with the learning. Maybe that could be a key for adults and elders to learn, also.

Who wants to do educational song-writing? Sounds like a wide-open field to me! Loads of potential!

Anyway, my idea about the way words and visualizing might access memory had to do with whether the individual has more orientation towards sound or visual stimuli and what order they might come in developmentally. Not to mention kinesthetic involvement. Does it help if we imagine how it feels to say the words?

It might have been a pretty interesting theory, but I don't know for sure.

I forgot what it was.

I think.

*Long Nights Short Mornings  Exactly what it says it is going to be. Sounds like an exercise in futility? Well.

May 1, 2017
Madison IN

A beautiful first day of May - at least in the morning. I went on the Heritage Trail for the first time in a while and saw a pleated woodpecker, a cardinal, a bluebird, and a bird of prey before I had even crossed the parking lot! I've been trying to identify it for sure but I'm just not. Cooper's hawk, maybe.

A sunny, breezy, first Mayday! Then after lunch it cooled and went much cloudier. I'm so glad I got outdoors while it was nice.

*Queen of Katwe  Sweet, sweet and inspirational film about siblings playing chess in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Uganda.

Yesterday and before

*Manglehorn  Tale of obsession vs potential contentment. A character study, basically, of a pretty immature - but no, I won't spoil it for you. It is entertaining.

* Our Little Sister  Tale of three sisters in Japan and what happens when they find out they have another, younger sibling. A charmer.

April 29, 2017
Madison IN

A book club meeting the other day kind of freaked me out. We read another fiction book that purported to have at least a glancing relation to a real person that it just didn't have. Am I the only one that finds this kind of stuff confusing?

Would no one besides me be offended if someone took their persona, gave it a doubly different vocation and attributed episodes (including romantic and sexual) that didn't happen in real life to them?

Writers protect themselves from lawsuits by pretending a real person was not the character they depict acting in certain ways in their "fictional" works.

Nowadays they take long-dead historical figures and make them say or do whatever they want, I presume because the dead cannot sue. It's the opposite of necrophilia, I guess. The dead have no rights whatsoever.

*Arrival  Not a genre I would usually choose but this is sci fi metaphiction I can relate to. I actually thought it was kind of fun.

*The One Hundred Foot Journey  A dream! Loved this tale of a transplanted Indian family. 

April 27, 2017
Madison IN

I thought it might be fun to extol some of my favorite novels. In no particular order:

Texasville by Larry McMurty

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Juno Diaz

The Goldfinch by Donna Tart

Joseph and His Brothers by Thomas Mann

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Sotweed Factor by John Barth

Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin oh really anything by Jane Austen

ditto Henry James, really

and the best of Thomas Hardy

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

I'll add more as I think of them.

*The Adderall Diaries  The self-destructive self-hatred of this young antihero is so enticing that I can't help joining him in it. I, too, hate him. I'm sorry, I'm just bored to death with movies on this subject. Just another stupid movie.

April 26, 2017
Madison IN

I talked to a neighbor who is of the Greatest Generation this morning, and told him about the mutual complaining of the Millenials and the Baby Boomers. I asked him if he had negative feelings about the younger generation. He said not really. The only other comment he made was that he always cared about "the babies."

He must have done well by them; he has a couple dozen grand- and great-grandchildren!

Or maybe he got that big a family by being exceedingly tactful.

He is a very sweet and diplomatic man!

*The Interview  Whew! This is one that might have you fidgeting for a while, but if you persist through the initial claustrophobia, I believe you'll find it rewarding.

April 25, 2017
Madison IN

If children are happy and given what they really need, they are wide open to learning about the world around them. I don't mean necessarily willing to bend to parental will about each little detail, but to learning what they need to operate and survive in the world.

It seems to me that negative emotions are the biggest block to that learning. Teaching your children, either verbally or by bad modeling, to react emotionally to every little bump in life makes it difficult for them to get outside of themselves and listen to and observe what is happening around them.

Worse yet, of course, is being one of the people that is causing your child the negative emotions that get in the way of that learning.

To the extent we are feeling in any given moment, scientists have discovered, we aren't thinking.

Feeling might be able to fuel good actions as well as bad, but we shouldn't get addicted to the gas!

April 24, 2017
Madison IN

If we, the species, do not care about the truth - the real truth about our universe - then we are more stupid than the ants and the bees and the birds which so many of us seem to despise.

Animals, at least, respond to their chemical and physical environment as well as they are able to perceive it. Even plants do this, as it turns out.

Humans, who have enlarged their ability to perceive the nature of reality, should be in a better position than any other species to avoid doing anything that would do our environment - and ultimately our own populace - harm.

To the extent that we permit ourselves to indulge in denial, our species shows itself sublimely stupid.

What a pity.

*Swept Under  I'm still trying to pick up my jaw.

*Learning to Drive  Lovely film about people that you might expect, now, to see on the street - if you live in NYC. Except these roles are not played by amateurs. Not at all.

April 22, 2017
Madison IN

*Moonlight  Fatherless boy copes with life in a tough neighborhood the best he can. Amazingly, this film is wonderfully - but no, I don't want to ruin it for you!

April 21, 2017
Madison IN

Seed money mead honey weed funny lead bunny heed sunny plead runny need gunney

Feed - just seeing which I would run out of first - words rhyming with seed or money. Well, I guess the result was not unpredictable. Bead deed keyed peed reed read teed steed.

The foolish month is not over yet.

*Five Nights in Maine  Loved this movie with its unpredictable but very real happenings and characters.

*The Founder  One of the rascals who made the U.S. what it is today. Oh, we are so lucky. Fascinating story with a real life anti-hero magnificently played by Michael Keaton. 

April 20, 2017
Madison IN

Anyone who was under the illusion that you have to be sane and normal to make it in the USA these days should be completely disabused of that notion by now.

Happy April.

*Meantime  Carefree and fun life in the English equivalent of the projects. And that statement is ironclad irony.

*Fences  Blown away by the wonderful acting in this film. As usual I was full of advice for these characters, but as usual they listened to it not at all. Incredible portrayals of characters both interesting and credible.

April 19, 2017
Madison IN

What is the difference between what I want to do and what I have to do?

That seems like a pretty silly question. What I want to do should be fun and what I have to do sounds, almost by definition, like a chore.

It's not that simple, though. Sometimes I clean because I feel I have to, while other times I want to - even though I would not go so far as to call it fun.

Part of it might be rebellion against duty. Definitely if I promise to do something, the farther in time I get from the promise the more it begins to look like a chore.

How does that happen?

Dare I universalize this experience, or am I just a very odd ball?

April 18, 2017
Madison, IN

One thing I think children are in danger of losing if they don't get to play outside enough is a knowledge of the impact of physical forces.

You learn by having snowball fights - or apple fights! - that throwing stones is maybe not a good idea.

You learn about gravity and what might happen when your support disappears from under you by playing on the seesaw.

Swinging is great fun. The best! If you do it too much, though, or swing too high, you might get sick to your stomach.

Or not! My point is, though, that by doing the actual outdoors physical stuff, you learn about the nature of the world and your own place in it. You learn about your own limits as well as your own talents.

We see accidents on workplace videos and on the news that I can't help feeling might not have happened had the people involved spent more time as children learning about the realities of balance and leverage and momentum in their own back yards.

*The Genius of Marian What with Pam's early onset Alzheimer's, her mother's art, and her husband's and children's devotion, this is an exceedingly interesting film. Denial, frustration, the desire to still have some control and pride - all these figure in this illness in a big way.

April 17, 2017
Madison IN

April was not cruel today. Beautiful perfect weather for a walk.

The healthy-style cinnamon rolls I made yesterday turned out great -inspired by a pizza dough recipe I used to make.

"Knead until you have a dough barely firm enough to handle."

Perfect formula for both pizza and cinnamon rolls. Now I am thinking, maybe for bread also!

Maybe for other things, too. Relationships, life....

I like it!

*Twentieth Century Woman  Beautiful group portrait of five people (most of whom were unrelated) more or less living under the same under renovation roof. 


*First Position Documentary about young ballet dancers in world competition. But what was that "over all" prize for that one young male dancer about? Without showing a similar prize in another age or gender group, it lacked credibility in spite of the fact that the young man was good. Too bad.

April 15, 2017
Madison IN

Canned instrumental music piped into the Bicentennial Park.

Mufflerless motorcycles blaring between us and the river.

Random building creaks induced by the vagrant gusty wind.

Refrigerator hums.

Cars driving by, audible but not intentionally offensive.

Canned voices singing the choruses of the music coming not from the Bicentennial Park as I had thought, but from even farther away. I don't know where.

A motorcyclist shouts to his buddy over the sound of his bike.

The squeak of my partner's wooden chair as he Googles or visits on Facebook in the other room.

Crunching of tires in the parking lot.

The white noise of our air purifier.

And as long as I am listing sounds, another white noise - the ever present but not always noticed tinnitus within my own head, in my own ears. Or in my brain? The phantoms of the sounds I can no longer hear.

*Midnight Meat Train  The grossest nastiest film I've ever seen, at the same time not convincing enough to be truly disturbing. We did watch it to the end, and if I had it to do again, I wouldn't see it at all. No redeeming social value. All thumbs and big toes down.

*A Tale of Love and Darkness  The birth of the state of Israel from the point of view of a boy who lives with a very troubled mother. Good film from a real life account.

April 14, 2017
Madison IN

Midway through April and it feels almost like summer. I wonder how the flowers feel about it? A lot of introductions are in order. Red and white dogwoods, double-flowering cherries, redbuds, yellow variety of something like witch-hazel? Lilacs, Hawthorne hedge flowering white, viburnum of at least two kinds not to mention ground-blooming herbaceous violets, tulips, irises making me worried that by May this spring will be all played out.

For some reason we are stubbornly not putting on the air conditioning. Okay by me - I have to be desperately hot to want it on. I think about it, though.

The type in my website seems to be voluntarily changing size again. It happens every now and then. I wonder why?

If I allowed myself to think about politics I would be terrified.

Politics in the U.S. today is like theatre of the absurd. I keep being shocked and stunned and mystified (and horrified!) but I am trapped in the nightmare and can only get out in my head and the most immediate physical reality around me.

All the sun, flowers, and beauty around me.

So ironic.

*Equity  Whew. Kind of like a genteel revenge tragedy with no loss of life, only prime.


*Toni Erdmann  Kind of neo-absurdist and very long but still a little bit heart-warming... occasionally. 

April 12, 2017
Madison, IN

Today I took a walk across the Milton/Madison Bridge. Halfway across I saw something that looked like an animal in the northbound lane, on the other side of the bridge from the pedestrian walkway.

Big batwings! Easily a foot wingspan - maybe more. Some variegated fur of maybe three colors including a golden brown. But the body looked so big! Nine inches!

I couldn't make head nor tail of the creature, though. When I got back home I tried to research bats, but I couldn't find anything that big in Indiana or Kentucky.

Maybe it was a stowaway fruit bat from some distant port. Or maybe it was a mammal that got hit with a bat in its mouth.

Or maybe it was a toy.

*Lion  Quite wonderful tale of a poor boy lost after a two-day ride on a train in India. Taken from real life, it's pretty mind-blowing. Also beautiful.

April 11, 2017
Madison IN

Today as I was walking along the river I saw a man more or less my contemporary setting up for golf. He was in a fairly narrow stretch of parkland, so I thought maybe he was going to practice his putting.

But no! He proceeded to drive one ball after another as far out into the river as he could, at least half a dozen while I was watching.

I was tempted to ask him if he was giving up the game, but figured if so he would not appreciate my interrupting his ceremony.

I decided to hike up the Heritage Trail and I'm glad I did because the purple larkspur are in full bloom - the most color besides green and brown, probably, to be seen for the entire spring and summer.

Upon my return to the apartment building, I saw one of our neighbors who said she was checking out the weather and the people. I told her about the odd behavior of the golfer, and she said, "Oh yeah, people around here do it all the time. We pick up balls on the golf course and hit them into the water. Sometimes we set up a boat as a target. I have my own clubs - and I don't even play golf."

I said, "Well, how much do golf balls cost, anyway?" (It seems so wasteful.)

"Nothing if you pick 'em up at the golf course."

Can't argue with that!


*Everyone Else  This German foreign film was so torturous in the beginning that I would have been perfectly happy to just turn it off. Not juvenile certainly, but too young for us, maybe. My partner wanted to give it a chance, though, so we watched it through to its end. An interesting enough dissection of a relationship. Not fun, though.

April 10, 2017
Madison IN

Talked to a man today who used to keep bees. He and his father-in-law kept fifty hives along a railroad track on State land with the State's permission. It worked well - he sold honey in addition to working at a regular job.

Then someone who wanted to keep horses bought land on the other side of the tracks. This person was concerned that their horses might get stung to death with so many bees around, and wanted the beekeepers to leave.

The beekeepers assured them that as long as the horses were corralled the bees would present no danger, but the horse owners were not convinced.

Just coincidentally, one day when my acquaintance and his father-in-law went to check on their bees they found every one dead.

April 8, 2017
Madison IN

Oh, grump. In the good old days, I do believe, yeasted recipes called for a package of yeast, which was, as I recall, one tablespoon.

In fact, my 1970 edition of the Tassajara Bread Book says in its basic yeasted bread recipe "2 T yeast (2 packages)."

Very kind of them to give both measurements, wasn't it? Back then a package of yeast meant something definite.

When I started making bread, the packages just didn't look the same, so I started measuring out the yeast I needed. If I needed two Ts yeast for four loaves, I only needed one half T for one loaf. Even if the packs had the same old 1T, I would have to measure my 1.5 teaspoons. I would have to measure anyway so I didn't pay much attention.

Sure enough, one package was not enough for two loaves of bread, which it would have been if the packages weren't smaller. Well, no surprise. That's the way the market goes these days.

Today, though, I made pizza. I looked more closely at the yeast package. "Approximately 2 and one quarter teaspoon per package."

I took my open package of yeast and poured the remains into a tablespoon. It was easily one third full. Another package of yeast should give me the one T I needed for the pizza. But no! I had to open a third package. No way did that package have what it said it contained.

I remembered from an old pizza recipe I should use one package for two relatively small pizzas. Back then that would have been 1T. I was afraid to use just one package today for fear it wouldn't be enough.

The pizza crust was awesome! I made it just right.

That was no thanks to the yeast people, who have now made it so that you no longer know what "one package" means. The convenient packaging is no longer convenient.

I feel sorry for novices of bread-making, who use "one package" and then don't know why their bread didn't rise very well.

I'm going on and on, maybe, but corporations are just nickel-and-diming us to death and getting away with it.

Maybe I should start buying my yeast in boxes, but that's too much like Commitment, which always discourages me.

Still. It's time to shop around.

Denzel Washington two days in a row.

*Deja Vu  Wow sci-fi and disaster and romance and suspense all rolled up in one movie! We loved this mindbender.


*Out of Time  Setting serene, plot not. This movie was a lot of fun. The hero in this one has a talent for getting into scrapes. We realized almost immediately we had seen it before but we also couldn't remember what happened or how it turned out, so... make of that what you will.

*Julieta   Strange little film with some very weird characters. Quietly weird, but unusual nonetheless with a talent for estrangement. 

April 6, 2017
Madison, IN

Almost half a lifetime ago I met a very lovely, gentle-seeming man at a folk dance I went to with my daughters. We spoke a sentence or two in between dances but I never got to know him well.

One day I had taken my children to hike a trail near Tesuque, New Mexico. On the way home, on a dirt road, we had a flat tire. There were a few houses in the neighborhood and I sent my kids to the nearest one for help while I continued to try to loosen the lugs (tightened with a power tool at the shop) so I could wrest off the tire.

Unbelievable luck! We knew the occupant of the house! It was Danny from the folk dances. He had the strength to change the tire, for which I am eternally grateful. What could have been a major ordeal of hiking miles for help turned out to be a minor delay.

His wife, he said, was meditating. "She meditates for hours a day, she so much does not want to be here."

I thought that was sad, to feel so negative about life. At least though, I thought, it's a fairly benign form of escape, like (in my case) reading or making pieced quilts.

Every once in a while, in the intervening years, I have thought of her and her meditative discipline.

A few months ago I read that meditating restores your telomeres at the ends of certain cells or amino acid chains that have to do with longevity. It seems that Danny's wife, who so much (in his perception at least) did not want to be here, had a very healthy habit almost guaranteed to extend her time here on earth by years.

How ironic!

*Paterson This low-key film shows the power of location and history on a place and its residents - even its visitors. Paterson the town and Paterson the bus driver seem largely unremarkable to the superficial gaze, but there are hidden dimensions there.

April 5, 2017
Madison IN

We hear a lot about how the human race has adjusted the year to come out right, so it doesn't get too out of phase with the true seasonal year.

We also know about the effect of the railroad on our perception and measurement of hours and minutes.

What about the in-betweens? Weeks and months? I just spent about fifteen minutes reading about this stuff and now I am cross-eyed.

True to its name, I guess, the month was originally lunar, and the lunar cycle is roughly 28 days. The ancient Romans had an eight-day week which for a while was used concurrently with a seven day week. Wikipedia says by the time Constantine made the seven-day week official (part of his formal conversion to Christianity?) the eight-day week had fallen into disuse anyway.

Before I dipped my toe into research on the subject, I decided that the only reason we really needed days of the week and weeks of the month was for the administration of empire. Primitives would seem to need awareness of seasons, and the cycle of night/day is a no-brainer, but why weeks?

Maybe it is the natural tendency of the splitters (as opposed to the lumpers) to just keep differentiating and dividing ad infinitum. Maybe that is necessary to the pursuit of truth.

Wouldn't it have been great, though, if twelve lunar cycles had just fit perfectly into one solar year? And if seven rotations of the earth had fit into the lunar month four times exactly?

Life could have stayed so much simpler. We lumpers could have it so much easier. We could have kept names for the lunar cycles that had to do with our activities for the month, or, like Native Americans, agreed to meet each other at a full or new moon.

The thing is, though, the splitters always seem to be determined to drag us with them into the new reality. They even make it worth our while!

April Fool's, lumpers!

*Frank and Lola  A dreary stagnant pond with a few sluggish ugly fish.

April 3, 2017
Madison IN

Apple appeal appeasement mental meal melt meld metal alloy ally lying lion lie down downer doughnut owner rowing roan round rondos soundoffs sanding standing ding dong doing gone gout grout gloating tingle gleaming mingle mincing marsh March maple April able apt angle awful fullness fluffy Foolness fleeting coolness. 

*Nocturnal Animals  At least the filmmakers are kind enough to give us a break from the fictional - but no, why should I warn you of what you are going to encounter in this very well put together film? I mean, look at the title. This is not a documentary about raccoons and possums.

April 2, 2017
Madison IN

Yesterday, within fifteen minutes of home heading upstream, I saw two young crabapples beginning to flower and fourteen flowering cherry trees in full bloom. Cloudy but bright sky made for a white on white composition.

Today I went downstream, where there are more flowering crabapples and cherries. Right before the dog park I turned away from the river and walked the half-block to the Lanthier Winery (another fifteen minute walk!) Lanthier works hard to keep its gardens looking beautiful.

They don't mind if you walk through them. Today, in addition to hundreds of tulips and daffodils and grape hyacinths, I saw my first bleeding heart blooms of the season. Flowering cherries, redbuds, Sistine plum, and a white flowering mystery shrub are in full glory right now.

On my return trip I went through the back of the Lanier Mansion. There weren't as many blooms there, but the bluebells were sure pretty.

Turning toward the river to the swimming pool, I walked along the front of the building under another six big flowering cherry trees, this time with a blue sky as backdrop. Underfoot the walk was soft with pink petals though the flowers on the trees looked mostly white.

Luxury at no charge is on offer in one of the most physically charming small towns I have ever seen.

Aren't we residents lucky - all this at a cost of living that stands at about 18% below the national average. I hope everyone gets outside to enjoy it.

*In Dubious Battle  Dubious film. It's hard to believe it is from Steinbeck's book when the timeline just doesn't make any sense. Hard to believe Steinbeck wrote it. And it is eternal. Not in a good way. All that star power....

April 1, 2017
Madison, IN

Not your typical April Fool's Day. If you are looking for my usual paeon to nuttiness look at yesterday's comment.

Today is just a big wet blanket: woolly and gray and cold. April Fool's Day indeed.

Perhaps out of disappointment my partner and I had a spat. No big deal - it was basically good-natured. It was serious enough, though, that I realized that the issue must be a close third to sex and money issues as a cause of break-ups.

What I am referring to is control. Here is my tale of woe:

I needed a pen and there was no pen in the usual place I look, a container on the coffee table which holds a tin of lip balm, a pair of scissors, fingernail and toenail clippers, two old Chinese playing cards favored by my partner for use as bookmarks, a bicycle taillight, a few rubber bands, a magnifying glass, two lens cleaning cloths, something of Vivitar brand (I don't even know what it is!) a couple of chapsticks, a small stone, some small change, two clothespins (one wooden and one bright-red plastic with a magnet with which it can be attached to the refrigerator), and one two-foot tape rule keychain with no keys attached (so that's where that went!) one scrap of paper, and sundry bits of dust, crumbs, and grunge.

(Ha! I haven't lost you, have I? It's like looking into someone's medicine cabinet!)

Of the container's contents, I have used perhaps four items in the last four months. A couple others might be mine.

The above information is prologue for understanding the significance of the following dialogue:

I: Oops! There's no pen there.

He: If you would always put the pen back, it would be there when you need it.

I: We should have three pens there! Then there would be one there when I need it.

He: I don't want three pens there!

I (opened-mouthed):   !    !   .....! .......!!!

End of dialogue.


I thought I was living with a sane man.

I am an April Fool.

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