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Rumilluminations January and February 2018
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Mon, January 01 2018 - 9:38 pm

February 28, 2018
Madison, IN

The river is receding and the NOAA, my go-to site for river flooding predictions, has a graph plotting its downward expectations.

Our downstairs neighbor says the old folks used to say that once the river started falling, it was hard to get it back up. Of course, in the old days the river used to sometimes fall to one foot in depth. That was before the dams and locks were put in to regulate the flow.

After reporting what the old folks used to say, my neighbor said with a wave of his hand, "Of course, I'm an old folk now."

Still, I hope the old folks are right. Another four feet and the electricity in this building might have gone out. Here, the flood was exciting but not too scary. Alas, not everyone in flooded areas can say the same thing.

Furthermore, it is a little rainy today and we're expecting thunderstorms tomorrow.

There's a lot more weather between us and low water season.

February 26, 2018
Madison IN

The river has crested and has started its retreat - for a while, at least.

After finishing washing the pans, I looked out the window at the lights from Milton sparkling on the water.

They looked so inviting I stepped out onto the balcony. From there I could see the yellow and white reflections of the bridge illumination, streaking much closer to us than usual because of the flood.

There was so much light from behind the building I figured there must be a very bright moon, and there is. It's positively smoldering tonight: not silver, but gold.

Then almost as an afterthought, I saw stars. Orion, much higher in the sky than I would have expected.

It was only after I had persuaded my partner to come see the sights that I realized how unusual it is to see a constellation here. There are too many lights in the streets and along the river.

The lights that normally bombard us at night are gone, and the flood has given us not only water but, for a few nights, stars.

February 24, 2018
Madison IN

It feels as if the whole town is engaged in flood watch. Although those living on the hill have nothing to worry about, I guess, unless they live close to a river, it seems like tourist season down here.

I walked a little along the river today - a puddling pondlike body of water so far from its ordinary usual banks. I walked along the river half a long block north of where it normally runs except when obstacles forced me up onto first street, which was heavy with unwonted (and by me unwanted) traffic.

The Lanthier Winery garden is partially inundated; likewise the Lanier Mansion's riverside grounds. This afternoon the water there was higher than I have ever seen it, and it has been raining practically unceasingly ever since.

Several people I encountered were willing to talk for a few minutes. One man from upstream Brooksburg was speculating that even the back roads might be flooded, cutting him off from his home. Another who lives on a high Hanover bluff was here so to speak slumming, I guess.

Almost everyone was taking pictures, although one picture-taking dad was also watching two kids bouncing around the edge of the lake that is now the bottom tier of the Bicentennial Park. No current there at all.

There is no expectation in our apartment building that the water levels will cause us any trouble before day after tomorrow, but there is rain all up the Ohio River Valley. We did take the precaution of moving our car out of the parking lot just in case, but I will be really surprised if we have to evacuate our home.

Small comfort - I have, in the past, been known to be surprised.

February 22, 2018
Madison IN

Good point from my partner:

Just as there are limits to our freedom of speech, there are natural, obvious limits to our freedom to own guns.

Incitement to violence is against our laws. So is falsely yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater or stadium.

In the same pursuit of the greatest good for the greatest number of people, assault rifles should not be sold, nor should bump stock that allows a person to change a semiautomatic weapon into an automatic one.

I read a wonderful article recently that explained that anger, not mental health issues, are what turn people into killers, even if that anger is normally turned inward as depression.

Evidently our citizenry needs education with respect to handling emotions.

It is ironic, though, that a nineteen-year-old could buy a weapon not even used in Vietnam to take home in the U.S.A., then use it to kill seventeen people in a school while a threat of similar behavior got another teen arrested the next day.

Part of that was timing, of course, but we don't want to be in the nonsensical position of effectively condoning bad behavior while talking about it is suppressed.

Freedom of gun ownership should have the same kind of reasonable limits as freedom of speech. For some reason freedom of speech is discouraged while the right to own firearms runs rampant over our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Gee, maybe it's because the 2d Amendment guys have guns.

Well, I have wielded my mighty pen!

"My song is done, I must be gone, nor make a further stay. God bless us all, both great and small, and send us happy one day."

(That is the way I heard these words, decades ago, so they are perhaps only a paraphrase of a Norfolk folk song heard on a Cynthia Gooding album in the sixties.)

February 20, 2018
Madison IN

Even warmer today. Unbelievable summer day, except we saw a bed of crocuses in full bloom. A local woman said her daffodils were blooming.

The river is higher than it has been in a few years. I saw a very large strange object floating downstream and one of our neighbors said it was a dock. Maybe it will get hung up on the Lighthouse Restaurant and its owner will be able to retrieve it. Who knows how far it has come?

Yesterday was very strange. It was warm with alternating hot and cold stray gusts. I have never experienced anything quite like it before.

Today the wind was stronger and better blended, the sunny skies cheerful and cheering. I was happier than I had been for a long while - happier than I usually feel the need to be.

Then too, a day that is neither too cold for my partner nor too hot for me seems like a rare treat!

February 19, 2018
Madison IN

The Ohio River is due to get to flood level in a few days, and today's record high temperature made February's breezes actually balmy.

It was a good day to get outside.

My partner and I finally seem to be recovering from the flu (knock on wood) and it is kind of depressing to read that the permafrost is melting and releasing god only knows what kinds of dangerous viruses and bacteria.

It seems to me now might be a good time to start studying the history of past epidemics and maybe refreshing our supplies of vaccines against polio and smallpox.

Meanwhile, I just found out a few days ago that the Center of Disease Control has been forbidden by the current administration to collect and compile data on gun deaths.

There is more than one kind of real social disease, not all physical ailments of the human body.

Our body politic is paralyzed.

February 17, 2018
Madison IN

Four-thirty a.m. I awoke to the sound of an engine in the driveway behind our apartment building. I thought. When it didn't seem to be going away I got irritated and got up to look out the bathroom window to see the offender.

No vehicle.

It must be the heating/cooling system of the grocery store on the next block - noisier than ever. I'll have to write them a letter, I fumed to myself. A neighborhood nuisance! Except the sound seemed to be coming from somewhere else now, just bouncing off the neighboring buildings.

I went into the living room. There, easily visible on the Ohio River, was a very noisy tow. A loud one.

Of course, I realized. There used to be a curtain of trees between us and the Ohio. Many of them have been removed. Trees used to muffle some of the noise of the towboats. We have, by no choice of our own, traded some relative peace and quiet for better river views.

I decided to write shipping companies instead of the grocery store. This might mean watching for the biggest corporate offenders.

We suffer little, though, compared with the people who work on those boats. Imagine what that constant din is doing to their hearing! (Actually I don't have to imagine. A mere five weeks total time on a tow left my partner with significantly worse hearing than he had when he left, measurable by the fact that we now listen to the television at more equal volume.)

Surely these companies could lower the noise level of those engines for the sake of their employees health!

And, purely incidentally of course, maybe I could sleep until 6:30 a.m., when someone seems to have a regular habit of slamming his car door.

February 16, 2018
Madison IN

Happy Chinese New Year! 

and belated Happy Valentine's Day!

Some things I never knew until I was in my sixties:

If you lose your place while reading a real book, you can find it again by looking at the closed book from the top. There will be a slightly greater space between the pages where it was recently open. I'm amazed at how often this works!

Young people are incredibly brave and courageous about facing life's challenges. I noticed this about my babies when I was a young mother, and now I marvel at the energy and fortitude of young adults - including my past selves!

How rare and unusual was the peace most U.S. citizens enjoyed sequestered here on the North American Continent during the second half of the last century. I just read in our latest book club novel (which I won't name because I didn't think that much of it, honestly) that soldiers despise civilians.

Maybe I still don't know that one. Is it true? That seems awfully punishing.

I don't understand. In fact, the older I get, the less I understand.

I am, however, courageously looking toward learning more things in my seventies, to be reported when I am eighty!

February 15, 2018
Madison IN

Blunt Trump brunt rump clump lump slump dump frump stump hump cunt shunt hunt runt mumps pump sump bump plump stunt.

How depressing and ugly most of those words are!

Stun gun run shun dun Hun nun those are downers too,
but fun and sun are okay!

Spun and pun.

That last an inconsistent, corny blast!

February 13, 2018
Madison IN

This morning I was reflecting on how, in my youth, we almost never made long distance phone calls. They were too expensive - we couldn't talk for any time at all without racking up big bills.

Nowadays people can talk long distance for as long as they want for no additional phone charges.

So what do they do? They text. Mostly very short texts.


February 12, 2018

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

February 9, 2018
Madison, IN

This weird flu that is going on seems to have an emotional component.

After going through bad headache for two or three days, followed by congestion and a bad cough, my partner seemed to be improving. The painful symptoms had abated. What was left was latitude and, for a couple of days, depression severe enough for me to notice and for him to mention.

A week or two after my partner got the flu, I seemed to get it. My symptoms were not as severe but they were similar. Headache, strange twinges of bodily pain, clammy and shaky sensations.

My headache was not so bad, and after the first few days I didn't suffer that much, but I still felt weak and sometimes shaky. At one point I didn't dress for outdoors for five days. Then I started feeling better. Still week, but otherwise okay... except I began to feel as if I might not survive - and I wasn't at all sure I cared. In spite of feeling better and even going outside for walks, I got really depressed.

Then I realized that this exactly followed the pattern my partner had experienced.

Neither of us is really well yet. In spite of our fatigue, our latest symptom is that we are having trouble going to sleep at night. I, who usually nod off in front of the TV set at 8:30 p.m., have been unable to sleep at my usual time. Last night I was awake until 2:00 a.m. Then we sleep late.

So, if you get this mysterious ailment don't expect to get well quickly. And don't let the strange depression get you down. I honestly think it is one manifestation of the disease.

February 7, 2018
Madison, IN

Trump is an amazing divider. I am anti-Trump. My partner is anti-Trump. Yet we can still argue about Trump, what we believe he has planned and what he is capable of.

This morning we were standing yelling at each other about parades.

Military parades. Why Trump wants one, why we don't. My partner says no because that is not who we are. I say we can't because that money should be going for social services and education and everything else Trump is trying to gut.

I believe Trump wants a big military parade and it better rival North Korea's and China's.

He can't do it! He would have to grade and pave the National Mall!

Oh, what do you know. Chris Matthews just started talking about parades.

Trump is so good at diversion, creating dissension, and generally making a parade of polarity.

Parades have for years begun to bore me. Goose the goose-steppers!

February 5, 2018
Madison IN

When I have been walking around in the last month or so, I have noticed that there don't seem to be many cars on the road.

Must be cold weather, I thought. Post-New Year's fatigue, maybe. The empty roads persist, though, no matter what time of day I happen to be out.

Now that the weather has warmed I think it is the flu. I think so many are down with it, or still sluggish while slowly recuperating, that there just aren't so many people on the go.

One of my landlords seemed to agree that the roads are uncommonly empty.

My partner couldn't really say - he has been inside most of every day himself.

Dozens of people are dying from this particular flu bug this year.

It sure is easy to get around town.

February 3, 2018
Madison IN

Amazing how little you have to say when you don't go anywhere or do anything.

This morning, I did a couple loads of laundry - small comforters and a heavy quilted pieced bathrobe I made thirty years ago.

This afternoon I walked to the library and checked out a few books.

Exhausting. This flu is interminable.

I feel fine. Just tired....

February 2, 2018
Madison IN

Well, we have had a year's course in Trump and he has failed.

January 31, 2018
Madison IN

Last day of January! Well, okay, but that means tomorrow is the first day of February, which is usually a harder month for me.

Not in recent years, though. I must admit February has been friendly and bright by comparison with Februaries of old.

And this month hasn't been fun. Rest in peace, January 2018.

January 30, 2018
Madison IN

In case you are wondering what I was on about in yesterday's piece, my partner had an experience today that would help to illustrate.

He went into a major store (corporate - huge!) today hoping to consummate a transaction that has been hanging fire for over a month.

Months ago, we ordered a sodastream machine online from a retailer with a presence here in town. When it came time for him to turn in one of his used cartridges so he could get a new one at half price, the locals did not know what we were talking about. It would be a while, they said.

A couple of weeks later we were in another state. "Let's go to that store here," I suggested. "You could turn in your cartridge here." The store was post-Christmas crazy busy, but they were prepared to honor the on-line deal.

This cartridge return deal is ongoing, so the other day, when my partner saw that the store seemed equipped now to honor it, he figured he would bring in his cartridge for a new one at half off.

Today he did. No one at the store seemed to know what he was talking about. He spent a good twenty minutes explaining what he was there for, how it had worked in Athens, Ohio, how it was supposed to work, and talking to people (including showing them where the canisters were) before finally someone just rang his new one up at the promised price.

Instead of keeping their (huge) store with its fifty (?) employees up-to-date on their own business, the owners of this corporation are probably in Dubai having fun, and my partner, recently resigned from another corporation, was spending his own time teaching their employees about their job.

My partner is the one who spends his time on most of the shadow work that falls to our lot. A good deal of it is on the computer.

My own ability to make computers seize and programs malfunction, which I attribute to personal magnetism and charisma which mere electronics cannot handle but is probably due to static electricity, excuses me from much of the nitty-gritty shadow work of 21st century life.

If some of the burden falls my way, I'm sure to report it.

In fact, come to think of it, I just did!

Shadow industry watch-dog reporter, at your service!

January 29, 2018
Madison IN

Why are so many people upset about what they consider the not-working of so many Americans?

The work that used to be the work of government agencies, public utilities and corporations has been pushed onto the public.

This "shadow work" (about which I am not the first to complain) has grown so much over the last decade that performing it has become an almost full-time job.

Just because we are not getting paid does not mean that we aren't spending precious time doing it. And these are tasks that we have to perform in order to live our lives.

If you are a person who is working full time at a paying job I hope for your sake you have someone else who is taking care of these chores for you.

If you don't, you have no leisure - or maybe your employer is unknowingly paying you for the shadow moonlighting dance you are performing on company time!

January 28, 2018
Madison IN

After a morning socked in by fog, the sun is shining gloriously and it's not even very cold.

My health is looking up and so is my attitude.

Maybe I will actually keep writing that short story I started a couple of weeks ago for entry into the Chicago Tribune's contest (entries due February 8).

Maybe I'll get out of pajamas for the first time in a week (well, almost.)

Maybe I'll actually go outside for something other than collecting the mail or ditching the trash.

I might even buy a Bitcoin or two if I knew how. If I have to mine them, I think I'd rather look for aquamarine.

My enforced indoor time has reminded me of how awful it must be to be shut in all the time, especially for someone who lives alone.

Although if some people are to be believed, they would be perfectly happy to live like that. Thanks to Amazon, they may be able to. 

For me, though, five weeks without sitting around a communal table - be it for dinner or discussion - is just too long.

January 26, 2018
Madison IN

Still sick, and suffering from brain freeze to boot.

Meanwhile, gorgeous weather for January. Perfect time to be outside. Instead I am inside hacking and coughing and sneezing.

I have been wearing my pajamas for four days.

Yes, I had a flu shot.

An also sick friend (pneumonia) said there are new better vaccines coming out for pneumonia and shingles (supposedly 98% effective!) in the near future.

These might be worth looking into.

January 24, 2018
Madison IN

Notes for the last three days: sick, sick, sick. 

January 21, 2018
Madison IN

Odd. I just realized that control freaks want to control everything - except themselves.

January 20, 2018
Madison IN

Charitable institutions who keep sending out unwanted mailings seem to me to be using almost as much paper as I would be consuming if I subscribed to the local newspaper - which I don't get because I'm trying not to consume so much paper.

I would rather get the local news. Yes, I confess I have given to many of these charities in the past, but now I'm trying to staunch the flow of cash going out. The well is drying up, folks. Stop sending me requests for money. Stop sending me gifts! Stop sending me offers of free gifts if I....

I'm afraid, though, that now I will get even more offers. Reverse psychology, it would be called, if I wanted that outcome, but I don't - really! I am not your friend.

If reverse psychology always worked, I would say I definitely don't want a job, then sit back and watch the job offers roll in.

Or better yet, don't pay me for my daily writing contributions!

Oh, and by the way, I don't really want to get the paper, either, really.

No, REALLY really.


January 19, 2018
Madison IN

I just found out that I have been a member of both the NRA* and the GOP without my knowledge.

Supposedly the entire student body of my college, Shimer College, then of Mt. Carroll, IL, was signed up for both of those organizations.

By whom? Well, the Shimer Rifle Club pretended we were all members to get more free .22 bullets.

If I had tried to run for public office as a Democratic candidate having been a member of the GOP might have proved embarrassing.

My membership in the NRA would have been even more improbable. My parents were pacifists, and one of my favorite teachers, my ecology teacher, hated hunters and hunting.

Interesting. These days our culture would have us so afraid of identity theft that we are supposed to guard ourselves with a plethora of passwords and special wallets, PIN numbers galore.

Fifty years ago my identity was stolen so some student hunters (or target shooters) could get their hands on more bullets to play with!

I don't know the motive for putting my whole school on the rolls of the GOP - an attempt to pad the statistics of the grand old party?

But when I become internationally known as the entertaining, creative, and prescient writer of, I don't want my biographers reporting my putative signing up for the NRA and the GOP.

It never happened!

(Just for the record, I've never been a member of the Communist Party, either.)

*Next day note: maybe I misunderstood. It seems the student list was sent as being members of the Rifle Club in order to get free bullets from the government administered through the NRA. Different, but I'm not sure that's not even worse.

January 17, 2018
Madison IN

So now, according to Headline News, Melania Trump will be enlisted to help keep the President's diet under control.

This sets off in me a rant against one of my pet peeves: the habitual thinking in our society that a man's wife should act as his mother.

On the other hand, nags are portrayed VERY unfavorably by virtually everyone. What is a First Lady to do? Withhold sex?

Ha, ha, ha, ha! Women can't control their husbands' sexual behavior, let alone what they eat!

I can't control my partner's diet, and I resent the imputation that if I don't try I don't love him.

As for Trump, a majority of American voters couldn't keep him from becoming President. Should we really expect his wife to keep him from eating?

Wake up, male America! Your wives and lovers are not your mother!

January 16, 2018
Madison IN

Maybe my generation made a mistake going for sexual liberation.

Now, instead of rebelling with sex, younger generations seem to be rebelling with all sorts of self-destructive behavior or, worse yet, bad behavior towards others.

At least when rebelling with sex, the young are obeying a compelling law of nature. The worst that could happen to a young woman, in her mind, would probably be to get pregnant.

New life, however, can hardly be seen as punishment for long by most of us. A brand new human being!

The "punishment" is increased responsibility and an opportunity to grow up.

So young people take sex, birth control and abortion for granted these days. If a person is angry he has to act out in some other more exceptional way, and many do.

Overly simplistic? Probably.

Still, maybe not. I met a young woman years ago who said her mother had one rule only: never wear shoes with no socks.

Outcome? They went without socks all the time.

Makes me kind of glad my mom had all kinds of rules. I had an assortment of ways to rebel.

I did not have to undergo the extreme discomfort of sweaty damp chilly blistered feet to prove to myself that the umbilical cord was cut and I was in control.

I merely lied about sneaking food out of the kitchen.

January 15, 2018
Madison IN

Today was snowy and I took a walk along the river. On top of the snow along the river walk I saw two spiders - alive!

I don't ever recall seeing a living insect in the snow before. These spiders were about twenty feet apart. Not hairy, so they seemed to have no defense from the cold. On my way back I only saw one and it didn't seem to be moving much.

Maybe they fell out of a tree or were flung out of someone's car blanket.

The temperature might have been as high as thirty-one degrees.

I just Googled spiders in the snow and found out there are ground spiders who live between the snow and the ground after building up in their bodies some antifreeze compounds.

What do you know.

They weren't necessarily doomed at all.

Just don't kick a spider out of your house in winter and expect it to live. It takes time for them to acclimate to cold weather, even if they are a species theoretically capable of handling it.

January 14, 2018
Madison IN

Cold weather is actually a great time to hike.

Wearing wool Ragg socks, Keene hiking boots, LLBean flannel-lined jeans, a merino nylon cashmere sweater I bought ten years ago for ten dollars under a twenty-year-old Irish fisherman's sweater under a good quality winter coat, wool hat (on sale for six dollars) and good gloves (on sale for seven) and scarf, I just went on an hour-long hike today.

It was fourteen degrees when I left, and though it didn't get much warmer, I did. For part of the walk home I had to take off my gloves.

It being cold, icy, sunny, and Sunday, I hiked up a road that is normally just too rife with vehicles - Telegraph Hill.

Telegraph Hill is scary for pedestrians. It has a hairpin curve or two, but no sidewalks or even shoulders. It does go along woods, though, which are easy on the eyes in their breaks from darting around looking for out-of-control two-ton flying objects.

It's a pretty long hike, so when I found myself well above the Hillside Inn (my usual climb) I gave myself permission to turn around and start back, even though I was kind of hoping to spot the water tank and crash down through the countryside around that. Since that would be trespassing, maybe that isn't a good plan for a Sunday outing. (On second thought, maybe it could be!)

I was passed by maybe a total of six cars on the road, so I think I did pick a pretty good day! One uphill driver very kindly offered me a ride. He was so good-looking I hated to turn him down, and that, in case you are wondering, was a joke. Well, kind of.

On my walk I also encountered a gentleman standing in his doorway in socks and sandals smoking a cigarette. He told me he had accidentally broken his driver's side window the other day by having the gall to try to open his car door when the vehicle was covered with an inch of ice.

So I guess my sermon of the day is a paeon to worshipping nature plus a cautionary tale about what ice can do to normally tough objects.

Including humans, I admit. Luckily, today I didn't fall, and I hope you don't, either.

My blessings! 

January 13, 2018
Madison IN

Time for another post that would be embarrassing for my children.

I've written about constipation, and different ways to handle it with physical motion.

Lately I've seen admonitions to spend at least part of your night lying on your left side to help the movement of food (okay, sludge!) through your system.

Another helpful exercise is to put your hands on the toilet seat and lift yourself up. Surprise, surprise! The release of pressure on your body frees things up.

Maybe these physical movements and adjustments are only necessary when you are old. On the other hand, maybe younger people are just not so inventive - or desperate!

January 12, 2018
Madison IN

The weather report for today predicted dangerously icy winter weather. There was a pretty layer of ice on tree twigs and shrubs, but underfoot there was no ice at all - at least not when I was out walking after 10:00 this morning.

A few days ago was a different story altogether. The temperature was so cold that any little bit of moisture that had formed was frozen. On a short walk I slid and had to regain my balance and footing to keep from falling three times.

A warning: brick walks are the worst. They look charming but they are really treacherous.

Today I thought to avoid ice by walking on the lawns. Wearing hiking boots, I thought I would be better off on the grass - less wear and tear on my treads and more anti-slip traction.

I didn't slip and slide at all, even on the copious amounts of goose poop gracing the riverbank. In fact, I didn't even notice it at first. And the guano wasn't frozen, either.

Luckily there were numerous shallow puddles to stomp around in to clean my boot soles. It was kind of fun.

I felt like little kid.

January 11, 2018
Madison IN

Stump Trump, 

Plump Trump

Lump Trump

Crumple Trump

Clump Trump

Trump rump

Dump Trump

P.S. How could I forget?  Bump Trump

January 10, 2018
Madison IN

Just read yesterday that people who eat a serving of leafy greens at least once a day have better mental functioning!

I have tried to do it anyway, but I am inspired to go darker and greener and more servings a day.

Kale! Spinach! Beet greens! Dark and varied greens!

There is more than one way to go green.

January 9, 2018
Madison IN

In a British comedy, Chewing Gum, a couple of supposedly teen-age girls dispensing advice say, if your boyfriend tries to have anal sex with you, don't make a fuss and complain that it hurts, 'cause he'll break up with you.

Is that supposed to be funny? It seems to me that the attitude of the young these days is that pain is something you should be willing to put up with for the privilege of having male companionship.

Forget that! Life is inherently painful enough without any increment of unnecessary suffering. Any guy that expects me to put up with that is welcome to break up with me if I wouldn't, and maybe I would never even know why.

Painfree is worth it.

Fifty shades of gray, Hell. Fifty textures of black, more like, and I say no, no, no and no. Fifty times.

Or maybe that segment was supposed to be funny. Well, I'm sure it was, but in a insidious kidding-on-the-square way.


January 8, 2018
Madison IN

On Epiphany my partner and I went on a walk and saw something new.

The Ohio River had more ice cover than we have seen before, and as we walked downstream we saw a flock of birds far ahead hanging out on the ice.

We walked past them, thinking they weren't going anywhere. They were far enough away that they just looked to us as if they were hunkered down, feeling cold. They were too big to be anything but geese. I wondered if they might be frozen in place.

Another group of geese was gathered in a south-slanting lawn nearby. It looked like a much warmer spot. We wondered why the vastly different choice of microclimate.

After wandering around The Mill antiques mall for a while we headed back to the riverwalk for the stroll home. We encountered a photographer who was grinning from ear to ear. "Did you see the geese out on the ice?" I asked him.

He had, and he got some good photos, too. He had first seen them a half mile further upstream and now, he reported, they had floated on down out of sight around the bend.

The geese were on a cruise.

Farther upstream I saw the oddest bunch of vegetation floating down faster than the current. My partner sussed instantly that it was motorized - a blind of five-foot grasses camouflaging a very serious-looking man bound to shoot at those joy-riders with camera or gun.

One observer thought the geese looked miserable. Maybe they were just hanging out on the ice because they thought they would be safe. We had been hearing an awful lot of shooting for the last few days.

I like to think, though, that they were taking advantage of a rare opportunity to see the world go by without having to beat their wings.

January 7, 2018
Madison IN

Look at Trump's claim that he is a "stable genius," made just after the passing of the Christmas season.

Who was born in a stable? Whose name sounds very much like the word genius?

Is he trying to evoke the idea in our unconscious minds that he is the Second Coming, or at least the next best thing to Jesus?

Right at the time that our conscious thoughts are turning towards Valentine's Day - and love?

I'm not saying he is doing this consciously.

Of course not.

That would be crazy.

January 6, 2018
Madison IN

Happy Epiphany!

I'm beginning to realize this is my favorite celebration of the year.

If only we celebrated it!

The tale of the three wise men of power travelling for weeks and weeks and miles and miles to acknowledge and revere an unseen quality inherent in an undeveloped, completely fresh, uneducated baby could be considered the stuff of comedy.

In fact, it isn't.

It is the stuff of spiritual truth: power and wealth must be used in the service of something other than self and must be provided to the quality of potential in others.

The aptitude for experiencing this wonderful ability resides in all of us.


January 5, 2018
Madison IN

When the Baby Boomers came of age, their insistence on sexual freedom made them, I'm sure, seem hung up on sex. (Us, I should say, though I don't think I was particularly sexually active. Too small-town.)

I was invited to a party and ended up in a room with a guy who complained about the sex-crazed people who made up the student body of the University of New Mexico, or maybe just the young of Albuquerque generally.

Not expecting that sort of party myself, I had no objection to not undressing with or kissing the grumpy young man I had evidently been assigned to, and went home. He had to look for his cat. Some party. 

Maybe in general we were obsessed with sex. That wasn't the only party I was invited to that had no attractions such as food or conversation. (Okay, I admit there were only two, but that was a high percentage of the "parties" I was invited to in those days.)

Nowadays the tenor of much of the comedy we see on Netflix seems to relate to anal sex. One comedian even stood up and said "anal" about twenty times in the first ten minutes of his show before we gave up and turned him off. I'm not saying he made the word part of a paragraph. That was almost the ONLY word he spoke up there, walking around on the stage.

He doesn't seem like the only one anally obsessed, either. Anal sex seems to be the latest craze, if you believe these men and women.

It makes me wonder if a whole generation has failed to psychologically progress even to the stage of obsession with their sexual organs. These folks seem to be hung up on their anuses. (Is that the plural of anus? Shows how much I know.)

Makes me wonder what the style of toilet training was when they were little. Makes me wonder a whole lot about all sorts of probably politically incorrect issues and, perhaps more importantly, the role of pain in the lives of our young today.

If this particular fad really takes hold, we better not stop the tide of immigrants into our country. We are going to need the newcomers if old-fashioned baby-making sex goes out of style.

January 4, 2018
Madison, IN

Yesterday I got an offer to buy $25,000 of life insurance for my children and grandchildren. "If no other beneficiary is named, the signer of the policy is the beneficiary." (That might not be quite the wording. I can't look it up because it has gone out with the trash.)

Is that a sleazy offer? To offer me money if one of my offspring dies? They put colorful drawings on it, too. As if I were in my second (or third!) childhood.

I don't remember ever getting an insurance offer like that and I didn't like it. I don't remember what company it was from but I never heard of such a thing except in the context of the man who killed his own son with poison one Halloween night. He had a $100,000 life insurance policy on his child.

The idea that some company is out there trying to 
make a campaign to sell life insurance to the elderly on their children's and grandchildren's lives is just plain disturbing.

Nasty, isn't it?

I have resolved to try to stay positive during this twelve days of Christmas and New Year's week, but things like this, and the news of Trump's Raw Deal are making it difficult for me.

I'm healthy, clothed, housed, and well fed. I have nothing to complain of. (Of which to complain, for the purists among you.)

But the world out there, beyond these walls, is taking on a very strange cast.

Hmm... maybe my mood is not helped by the big white truck that bore down on me as I was crossing with the walk signal on West and Main today.

I'm sure the driver of the truck was sure he/she wouldn't hit me, and after a split second of "what the hell???" so was I. But maybe these companies should be selling life insurance policies on my life to my children and grandchildren rather than trying to induce me to bet against my own children's lives! The swine.

I can't stay alert (let alone paranoid) every second of the day and one of these days one of these jerks might just catch me unaware - or overly aware, and I will have a stroke in the middle of the street.

Then that would-be policy on the lives of my children would not have to be paid out to anyone.

January 3, 2018
Madison IN

Why do so many people want us to be nice all the time? One time when I was in my early thirties a neighbor told me to "grow up." 

I didn't enjoy hearing those words. I'm not sure a happily married young woman with one child was being very nice talking to an unhappily married mother of three that way.

It did make me think, though. It did spur me to a little more introspection than I might otherwise have been inspired to.

It was a young man calling me a bitch that made me realize for the first time that if a woman stands up for herself that is when she will be called a bitch. A fabulous reframing of an insult that I might never have achieved if someone had not been rude!

Silent judgment is something of a riddle. The person who is the object of silent judgment feels... something.... He knows the atmosphere is sour, but he doesn't necessarily know why. He doesn't know what he is doing to inspire the weirdness, or whether it is the other moody person who is poisoning the atmosphere.

In fact, the older I get, the less I am bothered by the bad treatment of others (at least theoretically.) I take it less personally and even appreciate the fact that they are being so blatant, because then I can dismiss and discount and ignore them if they are being unreasonable.

If they misunderstand me and criticize, I at least have a chance to defend my actions and set the record straight as I see it.

Inscrutability is overrated.

You have to give the very tactful credit, though. They sure know how to protect themselves from the stress of open conflict.

Or maybe for me, to be always loving and forgiving and nonjudgmental and forbearing just takes too damn much energy.

January 2, 2018
Madison IN

Today even colder. We have to be bolder and solder ourselves to our resolutions of exercise and ablutions.

We must shoulder our responsibilities and shake off our mouldering moodiness.

Smoldering anger, begone! Tons of bygones, holders of cruel conditions and boulders of resentful erections, roll away!

We can be smart. Older souls than we burn the folder of past slights and slight pasts in the bonfire of dead leaves and used trash.

Are these exhortations resolutions? Re-solutions that have been dis-covered and re-covered over and over and over and over? 

Maybe it's just early year nonsense, baby-talk of two-day-old 2018!

New life, naturally brave, begin.

January 1, 2018
Madison IN

Already right off the bat we have survived what might be the coldest day of the year!

My partner has been cooking up a storm so we could be stuffed to the gills all day if we wanted.

Yesterday he made a double cheesecake to be shared with the neighbors in celebration of this new year.

I chose the timing for my walk for the heat of the day - 14 degrees Fahrenheit, that is.

There were dozens of geese along the river. Flying South might not have helped them today. I think it was even colder in Nashville, Tennessee than it was here.

Watching the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day reminded me of the Rose Bowl Parade I saw as a small child. The floats were impressive, as were the odd blossoms scattered here and there around the areas where the floats were constructed.

The next time I saw a parade I was shocked and disappointed by the fact that the floats were composed of crepe paper instead of roses - and precious little of that!

Happy New Year! May your 2018 be soundly constructed of the real, the genuine, and the beautiful.

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