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Rumilluminations May - August 2020
By: Esther Powell
Posted on: Fri, May 01 2020 - 7:55 pm

August 31, 2020
Madison IN

Happy last day of meteorological summer to you! This ending fits how I feel. A refreshing coolness has entered the breezes, and yesterday the Heritage Trail walkway was sprinkled with fallen leaves.


August 30, 2020
Madison IN

Sunny clear day so I walked to the top of the Heritage Trail that meets the drive encircling the detention facility and the State Hospital for mental patients.

I came down the hill via the ancient stairs and path to the railroad tracks and was surprised by my first human encounter ever on that wilder trail. A young woman coming up the trail said the first time she had ascended it she had to stop to rest. Now she runs up.

That's impressive - there are close to two hundred steps total plus the path that runs at a milder incline. I prefer the downhill part of the walk, whichever loop I choose.

My only wildlife sighting was a turkey who crossed the paved trail ahead of me. Oh, and a spider whose web I removed with a dead sycamore leaf so I wouldn't entangle myself in its sticky gossamer.

I might as well have bombed it. The inch-long spider at its center disappeared instantly. That made me nervous, of course, but the footing was challenging enough that it held my attention.

The weather held, too. I couldn't have asked for better.

August 29, 2020
Madison IN

Went to Farmers' Market this morning and bought bell peppers, flowers and hand painted greeting cards. There was other produce for sale but I didn't pay much attention. Nothing that I saw was tempting, alas, to me.

This is Trump territory and I don't belong in it. I couldn't manage to keep my mask high up over my nose, but others often didn't keep theirs above their nostrils or didn't wear one at all.

There are marijuana growers there, one of whom complained about the USDA intending to burn his crops because his medicinal THC was .01% higher than the legal limit. This after he had advised me that politics was probably better left alone.

He had greeted me as I walked by, so we spoke for a minute. I was, quite frankly, afraid to inquire as to who he blamed for these unreasonable chemical standards beyond the agency itself.

Does he believe one Presidential candidate more than another might support a solution to his woes, or is he just anti-government altogether?

All I know is, the toxicity of the country's political climate is at higher levels than I can well tolerate, and I am not alone. A psychologist my partner knows has to schedule patients on Sundays because the numbers of distressed and stressed out citizens are so high.

It's almost enough to drive a body to therapeutic marijuana!

August 28, 202O
Madison IN

Saw a very young heron being casually threatened by a corvid this morning (ha, ha, my electronic editor would have the adolescent threatened by a cervix!) The last I saw of it, it had flown away and landed on a log leaning up against one of the big rusty cylinders in the river. I've never seen such a young heron before.

Now we are getting a thunder storm with heavy rain. Glad I am not in that! Don't know weather this is related to hurricane Laura.

Now I am having trouble saving this entry. Weather? According to our modem everything is connected.

August 27, 2020
Madison IN

Re Percival Everett's Telephone:

I just tried to call Greywolf Press and they are working remotely now. I guess I will have to email, but their address was odd and I can't be sure I remember it correctly. I 'll call again later with a pencil in hand.

It turns out that the idea of Telephone isn't necessarily so revolutionary. I read in Jenny duBois' novel The Spectators about an off-Broadway play that had its actors rotate the characters they played from performance to performance. Was this taken from a real experience? I don't know - another thing to research, maybe.

Of course there are online experiences where the reader can make choices about where the story will go.

Hard print is hardly comparable, but an Irish novelist of the thirties (writing under the pen name Flann O'Brien) startsĀ  his novel At Swim-Two-Shoes with the idea that he should have at least three beginnings and a hundred endings. Obviously the idea at least is not a new one. Maybe if I read that novel again I will actually get an idea of what is going on in it.

There's even more to say about variability of experience in the arts, but hey - tomorrow is another day.

August 26, 2020
Madison IN

Who is Percival Everett? I thought the idea of his novel Telephone was genius! Well, more like the naming of the book. Or should I say novels and books?

So far I cannot say. Marketing genius, perhaps.

He is, however, making me crazy.

Even from here - where do I go? Which way he is making me crazy do I start with?

Supposedly there are three different versions of the work. Mind-blowing, indeed. There will have to be a new library cataloguing subdecimal to deal with that.

Or will there?

Maybe the publisher is sending the different versions to libraries in different regions of the country, and none of them will be any the wiser unless their purchasing person read what I read about it.

Maybe I should call the publisher to try to find out, but my neighborhood bookseller said he would do that, and I haven't yet heard if he followed through.

I could call the publisher myself. Why have I not?

Am I afraid of rebuff? Being lied to? Being told the truth?

I delay I do not know why.

In the meantime, the suspense is delicious....

August 25, 2020
Madison IN

Within the last week we have seen the Great Blue Herons return. Day before yesterday we saw a pair, each standing on its own piece of stationary driftwood out in the current maybe twelve feet apart.

Today I went by the spot again and only saw one. I worried a little, but I needn't have - on my return trip the two came flying upstream together, treating me to some swoops and views from all angles before croaking and landing on the shore.

It is sure great to see them again. Hopefully the river is coming back to life.

Unfortunately the coronavirus is still with us. Jefferson County had its third death a couple of days ago.

August 24, 2020
Madison IN

Years ago I welcomed anyone who wanted to follow the course of Alzheimer's (if I happen to have it) or aging on the output of a brain as expressed through writing to monitor this site - to use my example as a minefield for possible information.

I obviously expected to rattle on forever.

This is not happening. Maybe I am discouraged (ha, ha discouraged by the scourge) and disheartened by the pandemic not to mention appalled by the current politics. (I am also apolled in that I haven't finished a survey yet for someone interested in my political views. Heh.)

I also promised at one point to educate myself about the countries of the world in the opposite of alphabetical order and report back to any readers the latest news. I stalled at Vietnam, as I recall. Well, comical as that was, I was not the only one! All I could find about that day was something about a ball game and that discouraged me. Why didn't I just report that and keep on going?

I apologize to everyone I have ever failed when it came to following through. I apologize to Penny the artist who was going to do a painted series of my laundry clothesline work for getting careless with it and probably discontinuing it altogether. It had nothing to do with you. Maybe Penny found another clothesline artiste.

Apologies are due to many others, of course, but you'll just have to be content with knowing who you are. I'm sure I have failed many.

Back to the subject I started with. How much of mental failure is really just failure of will, purpose, desire? How much of it is failure to move enough for the above reasons?

Move the body from one position to another, from one state or region to another, from one home to another?

One interesting symptom of dementia is supposedly the inability to tell the time and ultimately to draw a clockface. I can still do both, but a couple of times lately I have picked up my watch and not been able to tell the time for a second or two before I realized I was holding it upside down!

Why was I not just wearing the watch, you ask?

Ha! Well, there you go.

I am quite confident that the egg preceded the chicken, but what comes first in the evolution of dementia I still do not know. Maybe reading my thrashing about will enlighten you. I will write again if I can (and if I feel like it.) Hopefully about something else.

Best of luck!

May you survive in good health and spirits the Pandemic Presidency!

August 4, 2020
Madison, IN

Ay, yi yi, we are almost up to 3,000 coronavirus deaths in Indiana. That makes the average sixty deaths per county. Obviously at 2 deaths in Jefferson County we are well below that average. Maybe that is why people here are still not taking the disease seriously.

Most of the populace are now wearing masks in places of business because of the Indiana governor's executive order, but there are still some scoffers, and I see groups of people without masks along the river all the time.

Me, I shamelessly steer clear of everyone.

It's actually kind of liberating.

July 10, 2020
Madison IN

One thing I forgot to mention about Harmonie State Park is two silver maple trees we saw near the junction of Road Creek (?) and the Wabash River.

When you think of silver maples, what do you envision? I think of the trees that grew between the sidewalks of our corner home and the street. When we moved into the house in the early fifties, they seemed grown to my eight-year-old eyes, and they stayed more or less healthy for decades. Fifty years later one or two had died - from old age, I thought, but there were still several providing beauty and shade.

Pretty long-lived species, I thought.

Then I saw two humongous trees along the creek. What could they possibly be? My partner and I put our arms around the larger trunk, touching fingertips. We were lucky if we embraced two thirds of its circumference! It reminded me of when my whole family tried to reach around a redwood.

Those trees were silver maples! They were some of the biggest trees I have ever seen in the Midwest. It showed me what a silver maple could be with ample water and annual flooding and adequate space.

I went online to see how big the heaviest silver maples in the country are. The current national champion is in Wisconsin but its primacy is being challenged by a competitor in Maryland. They measure 25 feet and 27 feet around respectively.

How tall our huggee is remains a mystery. So does its age. I hope that it remains unknown for a long time, and when it does die someone will count its rings and appreciate the fact that it might have been alive when our parents, now long gone, were born.

July 7, 2020
Madison IN

Did I not write in July? I could have sworn I wrote in the first few days of July, but if I did it is gone now.

The fourth was quite good. On my morning walk I was walking in the middle of the streets because there was so little traffic.

When we went out to our balcony to watch the local fireworks, we saw a beautiful apparently full golden moon rising through the trees. When it broke free of the silhouetted leaves it was just as gold and just as whole. As a wonderful memorable sighting it gave the fireworks some competition.

There were hundreds of people out to see the show, and if they were anxious to distance themselves from others, they didn't succeed. Maybe the throngs would have been bigger without the threat of disease - the weather was glorious.

I am willing to celebrate the birth of our nation, while staying mindful of the fact that it effectively meant the extermination of other nations. After all, here I am, an American - although maybe not so proud of it. How is pride called for, anyway? I participated in neither the creation nor the inevitable adjunct of destruction involved.

Today, though, I have a response to the expression so popular among so-called patriots: America - love it or leave it.

The fact is, whether we want to or not - we can't. What country allows human beings to migrate freely across its borders any longer? Not the U.S., for sure.

In a way, we are living in a big, beautiful, very varied prison. Don't tell me to love America or leave it. There isn't really such a simple choice available to me.

June 27, 2020
Madison IN

A neighbor got up on a big stepladder and washed our 2d floor living room windows for us yesterday. What a difference it makes! First time the outsides have been cleaned since we moved in eight years ago, and to be honest I don't think they were clean then!

In addition my partner scrubbed the kitchen screen which I had halfheartedly and unsuccessfully tried to clean in situ a year or more ago. You could barely see through it, and now it is seems transparent! He had to take the screen off to clean it, which I was never able to do.

Now we can keep our living room blinds up higher, which doubles our view of the river and green hills beyond. It is like moving into a new place entirely!

It almost compensates for the knowledge that our days are beginning to wane.

I bet I won't notice it for months, and when I do I have a fantasy of migrating all the way to the southern hemisphere.

The hummingbirds do it, why not I?

June 22, 2020
Madison, Indiana

These are the longest days of the year. They are luxurious with light!

Eh, so people don't really need to get up early these days. Throw a little more light out there! Here's more sunshine in the evening. When it is nine o'clock it looks like three. Yippee! More safe time for you and me!

So what do my partner and I do? Even camping, we'd sag into our cots before dark, falling asleep to the sound of kids playing and riding their bikes around the drive. In broad daylight! even before the parents made their protesting offspring hit the hay!

Then, around three maybe, I at least would wake up and read, beating the birds for early rising, listening to their gradual stirring and murmuring. Before dawn there would be a dozen different species calling for the rising of the sun, me silently included!

Well, my sleeping patterns are random at best. I rarely actually see a sunrise. Often I will go back to sleep a little. This morning I did, awakening with no help from birdsong a little after six.

Except, immediately after starting to write this, I did hear a distant crow.

And good morning to you, too!

June 20, 2020
Madison, Indiana

I would rather spend time with an agnostic who believes every now and then in spite of himself than a believer who sins every now and then in spite of himself.

On a different subject, we went on a camping trip!

After spending two nights in the New Harmony Inn, which was a lovely place to stay in a really peaceful town of historical interest, we went to Harmonie State Park for three nights.

Harmonie is one of Indiana's newest state parks (whereas Clifty Falls near Madison is the oldest) so it doesn't have Civilian Conservation Corps structures or bridges, which tend to be very charming.

On the other hand, the park is on the serene and lovely Wabash River.

The trails provide shade and are not difficult for older people to negotiate. We took our hiking poles on our walks mostly out of habit. Our campsite had pecan trees gracing our view, and when we arrived there were only two other sites taken in our loop.

The campground has two hundred sites, several modern bathrooms and at least two playgrounds for the children. Campers both young and old also seemed to enjoy the bike riding possible along the relatively unused drives. I don't know how it is on the weekends. Unfortunately the swimming pool is closed at present due to the coronavirus risk.

We saw big fish and turtles in the river, and quite a few birds. Our last morning our campsite was visited by a pair of wood thrushes, which was a special treat for me. I usually hear them while I'm hiking in the deep woods and can't even catch a glimpse of them.

We also saw heard a wide variety of calls that I couldn't identify in this southern part of the state. Out of all the birds we heard, though, the wood thrush seems to be the earliest riser!

Upon arriving home I found I was hosting a couple of ticks, in spite of trying to wear pants in unappealing colors. Ugh.

Here's hoping I don't get Lyme disease! From all I've heard, doctors have trouble diagnosing that ailment.

June 11, 2020
Madison IN

Rather ironic that we environmental types are always whining about invasive species. What about new, different-looking invasive varieties like US?

Or invasive species multiplying like bunnies - like US?

Oh well, I am sure the Cosmos will find a way of dealing with the problem of us.

Meanwhile I am trying to avoid the coronavirus, at the same time I'm becoming more blase about reporting it or even looking up the statistics. It's not going away anytime soon, alas.

June 1, 2020
Madison, IN

Yippee! My range of emotions is back! Even I can't yell ALL the time.

It seems as if the nation has coronavirus fatigue. One of those cases of unrequited love, I guess, because the coronavirus is not tired of us.

The Indiana death toll is up to 2134. I find the graphs confusing, because while the number of deaths seems to be going down according to the graphs, the total number still seems to me to be climbing pretty high.

People seem to be partying more than ever around here. The motorcyclists are revving as they revel. While I really appreciate the new stop signs on the corner, the motorists who don't like the legally required pause protest by gunning their engines with extra gusto as they start up again.

My partner has returned to doing our food shopping in person, albeit wearing a mask. He wishes his fellow shoppers would offer him the same courtesy.

Meanwhile, although Jefferson County case numbers are going up, we still register only one death. I haven't heard anything about the situation in the nursing homes here.
I still suspect we are not hearing the whole story.

Wildlife and gardens seem to be evolving into summer mode, which is appropriate for June. My partner and I plan to do some camping this month. I'll let you know how that goes!

May 30, 2020
Madison, IN

Somehow I have gotten stuck in bold. My toolbar has disappeared. Maybe I'll write later.

May 21, 2020
Madison IN

Dams in Michigan have broken, flooding tens of thousands of homes.

Someone on Facebook is wondering why Mother Nature couldn't have given us a break. Isn't the pandemic enough of a natural curse?

Well, for one thing, extra rain wouldn't have been a problem if the dams had been properly maintained and their spillways updated.

For another, her comment made me muse about God the Father and Mother Nature.

Who really believes in Mother Nature any more? All my life people who spoke of Mother Nature didn't really believe in her the way they believed in God the Father. She is really considered a force - she's a metaphor.

Their belief in God the Father, though - for many that remains rock solid, not only as a power beyond but as a personal relationship.

Why is that, I wonder?

As for me, I don't believe in either of those fictional all-powerful characters.

Of the two, though, Mother Nature feels more immediate - unless God the Father is the sun.

May 15, 2020
Madison IN

Well, what do you know. The Indiana reports on the coronavirus have made it official: we have had our first resident die of the disease.

This is not a source of rejoicing. What is something to be thankful for, I guess, is that it was reported at all.

Given that Indiana's cases continue to increase at an incline of about the same angle as the y in May, it is hard to imagine why restrictions on socializing have been relaxed.

The other day we found a newly marked trail that followed Crooked Creek. It was for the most part easily navigated and on that green and sunny morning we saw a scarlet tanager, a purer red color than most cardinals I see.

And those shiny black wings! A stellar sighting.

The walk also took us to ruins of a bridge we had never seen before.

Oh, well. We've only lived here eight years. (!)

We've also lived less than a century and never seen a pandemic hit us personally either. (Just to take us full circle, here.)

May 14, 2020
Madison IN (not Wisconsin, thank goodness! (Never thought I'd say that!))

I don't know what's next on my agenda because I don't have an agenda.

These days that may be a very good thing.

Only saying that, I realize I do have an agenda: staying healthy and encouraging others to do likewise.

People's behavior at this time shows me that we have not been successful at keeping people healthy either physically or mentally.

Well, duh. We cannot convince people not to smoke, overeat, drive drunk, or seek help for mental distress, so why should we expect them to wear masks?

1619 dead in Indiana per the Coronavirus Dashboard set up by a student in Washington State. The Indiana government reports a lower total last time I checked (last night). Jefferson County, which is rumored to have had one death days ago, is still reporting none.

Huh! Probably still waiting for the result of a "diagnostic" test!

May 12, 2020
Madison IN

Here's an idea for a cartoonist: 1 ounce of masks (about 10) equals one-tenth of a very light-weight ventilator.

May 8, 2020
Madison IN

I have just discovered that my email is schizophrenic. Or I guess dissociative is the more correct word. My IPad doesn't know what my Kindle is doing, and maybe vice versa.

How this happened I do not know.

Somehow, though, my virtual reality has become more powerful than my physical reality. With the threat of the closure of the post office, my anxiety levels are higher than they have been for years.

The barrage of emails I receive without any ability to respond in words is a tsunami which evidently I now have to fight on two fronts.

They want me to listen, sign petitions, send money ALL WITHOUT any unprogrammed response from me. (My electronic editor, by the way, wanted to replace my perfectly good English word with the word "reprogrammed.")

"Unprogrammed" is evidently unheard of in the digital world run by digital systems. Unprogrammed is virtual death - or failure to even come into being.

All this barrage of electronic commands is made worse by my failure of trust in any of the organizations making the demands. I don't know what is real and what is a hoax. Even genuine organizations that I used to rely on have lost their moral center - or lost their control of employees who have lost it.

So here is my talk-back, my response to your demands.

You may not read it.

But at least you don't have to delete it.

May 3, 2020
Madison IN

A writer in The Atlantic asserts that American men do not want to wear masks because they feel it takes away their
manhood. It emasculates them.

I don't really get that at all. The Lone Ranger wore a mask, and all kinds of really tough bad-ass guys have historically worn bandanas, ski masks and stockings over their faces to hide their identities.

But wait - oh, yeah, I get it!

Wearing a mask e-maskulates them!

Er... just a minute. It's more like the opposite. Wearing a mask should enmaskulate them.

No, I just don't get it.

Not at all.

May 1, 2020
Madison IN

Today is May Day!

My gift to you is one of my sightings from one of the last days of April.

A rose! A yellow rose. In April!

Our gift to ourselves was a walk in Clifty Falls State Park, birdsong, and a mammal sighting. Not a squirrel, no chipmunk. Nothing human. A coyote? A wolfyote or coyowolfe, perhaps?

It was too light on its feet to be a dog, we thought. Its snout was very long.

It left the road and we didn't see it again.

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