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Rumilluminations March 2021
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Mon, March 01 2021 - 10:44 am

March 30, 2021
Madison, IN

Only one day of March left before we get fooled by April, but actually March has been trying to fool us also - into thinking it is May.

Well, I admit I am well-snookered. After all, there are flowering trees and daffodils galore.

And here I am on one of the last days of March, falling asleep in my spring fever sleep-deprived swoon while I am trying to write and awakening to a split keyboard!

How does one split an electronic keyboard? I didn't know it was possible to split my keyboard so of course now I can't undo it.

Maybe after I log out it will return to normal, but at this point I'm not sure I care. It must be more accessible to my thumbs now and it hasn't lost its former order.

March on and march out, March!

Welcome April and folly. I just hope my personality doesn't follow my keyboard and split permanently.

If so, I'll be all thumbs.


March 29, 2021
Madison, IN

Oh, well. Distracting day, and I can't write while watching The Ice Man Cometh. I guess these days it would be called The Milkman Cometh, except is there even such a thing as a milkman?

The Postman Cometh, maybe.

We only got through Act I.


March 28, 2021
Madison, IN

Yesterday I walked to the west, where I saw weeping cherries pruned to look like parasols. Today I walked on the east side of town, where I saw a half dozen weeping cherries with branches allowed to cry and droop all they like. Aesthetically I prefer the sorrowful ones; they are more graceful.

It's Sunday today and as usual I worshipped outside. Why do people think you have to have religious faith in order to experience gratitude - in order to feel thankful? Is it because some feel that everything good that has come to them has always come through human agency? Is that why they have to personify a god?

"God" - what a cramped guttural little word that is! I prefer the Native American "Great Spirit." It is so much more expansive. 

When I go outside in almost any weather, my spirit expands. There is so much to appreciate I don't feel any need at all to define its source. Universe would do, except now we are suspecting there are multiverses instead.

Yesterday someone asked me, "If there's no God, where did the universe come from?"

I naturally responded, "God knows."

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

I don't know, and not being a physicist, it's not my problem.


March 27, 2021
Madison, IN

Magnolias beginning to flower, along with weeping cherries and all the ground flowers of early spring - daffodils, vinca, hyacinth in incredible abundance.

It seems as if many people have feng shui sentiments against weeping trees, because the cherry trees I saw this morning were pruned to look more like parasols than sorrowful branch-trailing wailers.

The scents must be affecting me also because I dreamt about a group of people who wouldn't accept you unless you wore a perfume called rainbow. There might be a good short story in that concept. No LGBT associations in my unconscious with that, I hope, even though I have just begun a memoir by Norah Vincent titled Self-Made Man. It promises to be fascinating reading.

Sometimes a rainbow is just a rainbow and is accompanied by the scent of wet earth or pines.



March 26, 2021
Madison, IN

Yesterday I saw a Madison Courier headline that said the state is ending mandated masks in businesses as of April 6th.

How on earth is that called for? Only 14% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated. Just under 18% of adults over 20 in Indiana have been vaccinated, which is better than some neighboring states but still not exactly overwhelming.

The state mandate to stay masked inside public places, while not always observed, helped keep passionate expressions of opinion about masking to a minimum. That helped keep the peace.

It also helped keep us healthy.

The timing of our opening is especially unfortunate because new variants of the virus are attacking younger people with fatal consequences.

This could adversely affect all of us, because more virus will get passed around and potentially harm even those of us who have been vaccinated.

What a mess.





March 25, 2021
Madison, IN

Given the way insurance companies operate, they will probably start adding genetic dispositions to the "preexisting conditions" column.

God, now I'm afraid I'll give them ideas - also probably one of the fears of fiction writers.


March 23, 2021
Madison, IN

For the past two or three days I have suffered more allergic symptoms (itchy nose and eyes, sneezing) than I have experienced for decades. The tree pollen count is high, but I haven't been prone to Spring allergies in the past. 

Is it because my coronavirus vaccine has kicked my immune system into high gear?

Is it because we have lived here for nine years now and I am finally developing sensitivities I've not had in the past?

Have I failed to eat enough bell peppers and other foods that help keep allergic symptoms in check?

I wonder what the general population is experiencing this week.


March 22, 2021
Madison, IN

We have started watching a movie called Banker about a creative smart black man who goes into the real estate business and eventually gets into banking.

So far it is really interesting, but the first words that were spoken in the film about how bankers need to be trustworthy set my mind off in a different direction - in the direction of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion, and his forays into the world of banking.

The movie I am watching is great so far and it tells a story I want to hear.

Since Mormonism is the fastest growing religion in the world, though, I would really love the public to know about Joseph Smith's way of dealing with banking laws in the nineteenth century. He was audacious, and I would like to learn more about what happened back then, myself.

I reckon that story would make an awesome film that I, for one would love to see.

Not told by a Mormon, though. It would have to have outsider perspective to sustain integrity.



March 21, 2021
Madison, IN

The coronavirus prison doors have been flung open, and I will be escaping from them with glee, although still masked as required.

This morning we went to Clifty Falls Park for the first time in a long time and saw six spring wildflowers at least in the bud.

My driver's license has a star, which gives me wings.

Don't fail to take advantage -the outdoor seasons have officially begun.


March 20, 2021
Madison, IN

People in the more contemporary literature I am reading lately lie alot. Is this because more people lie more often than ordinary folks used to do, or is it more an expose of what people have always done?

I would say I would rather believe that times have changed and more people lie more than they used to, but the 21st century is difficult enough to handle without thinking that it is worse than the 20th. After all, last century was God awful for millions.

A disproportionate number of these fictional people drink on the job. Actually they get drunk on the job! Does this reflect the new reality? Have so many real citizens seen movie private investigators and corporate executives drinking while they work that they think it is okay to drink on their job at the library or the local elementary school?

I'm just wondering. Is dealing with alcoholics in stores and civil offices as well as on the street going to be part of our brave new world?

Just wondering, because I don't think I'm adequately prepared for that.



March 19, 2021
Madison, IN

Walking up the river walk this morning, I smelled what was more usually encountered downwind of the sewage treatment plant. I couldn't identify the source of the stench and just turned away from the river and walked through town instead.

Later I worried that the source of the smell was the river itself. What if some community upstream had had a major accident? That would not be a good thing.

An hour later I decided to test the air by the river as far downstream from our home as I had been up river before. Thankfully the air was clean.

The occurrence made me wonder, though, how fragile our clean air protections might be.


March 18, 2021
Madison, IN

Finally it seems as if our coronavirus death statistics are leveling off or even declining. Our grand total of deaths has stayed at 76 for over a week, maybe longer.

That is still more than we ever thought possible a year ago.

In a week or so I should be pretty immune, and am rather surprised I had so little trouble scheduling these shots. Well, actually it was something of a pain, but at least I got them. Indiana must have been relatively efficient.

I definitely feel part of an elite, though. Let's hope the rest of the country catches up fast.



March 17, 2021
Madison, IN

Ha, ha, the admonitions to get rid of everything in your house that doesn't bring joy just makes me laugh. 

My toothbrushes and toothpaste don't bring me joy, particularly, nor does my very pleasing hairbrush.

Medicines and the incredibly nasty mouthwash my endodontist prescribed inspire emotions that don't come anywhere near joy, although admittedly the knowledge that I will only have to use the latter for a week or two makes me practically ecstatic.

The advice to throw out anything that doesn't bring you joy probably also applies to misbehaving children, but parents have been doing that for years. They throw the little monsters outside to play in the yard or the nearest park.

No, I'm sorry. Joy just isn't as ubiquitous in my life as the necessary and sometimes beloved objects and creatures that don't inspire it.

Forget joy. I'll settle for simple equanimity with an occasional dollop or two of contentment.


March 16, 2021
Madison, IN

Trying to use contemporary technology is like sloughing through the mud in ballet slippers.

Everything is supposed to be wonderful - magical, even.

The whole world is at our fingertips. All we have to do is press the right area on our screens, on our remotes...

Then sit back and watch while the whirlagig spins eternally trying to call up our mail, article, or GIF.

Sit back and find something else to occupy our minds during ads or while our selected program freezes, stutters, or blacks out completely due to mysterious causes.

Where are my boots? I'm going out to caper in the mud.




March 15, 2021
Madison, IN

I was preparing my breakfast oatmeal when I glanced out the window and saw the lights of a tow gliding noiselessly upstream.

Well, noiselessly. By that I mean above the sound of boiling water and the refrigerator and the crackling surge of my tinnitus.

I went to the living room window and still couldn't hear the barge.

If one boat can move rapidly upstream that quietly, why can't they all?



March 14, 2021
Madison, IN

Along the river there are three or four slabs of rock that had memorial plaques on them. I don't know if they were also supposed to be benches. I haven't seen anyone sitting on them.

Yesterday I noticed that the metal plaques have been removed. Recyclers? Or was it done out of spite? One stone slab that still has its plaque is in praise of Madison workers. Why was that one spared?

Someone smashed the rear window of our car this morning while it was parked at my partner's workplace, so my viewpoint of my fellow citizens is a little jaundiced right about now.

A little while ago I found out the police were up at our floor and end of our apartment building for one half hour yesterday.

I wonder what that was about?

On the bright side of apartment-dwelling in Madison, there is a new complex for low-income seniors (62 and older) a ways downstream from here. If we were not so comfortable here (are we still?) we might consider living there. Housing for a very reasonable cost in what is already a very inexpensive city is not to be overlooked.

With regards to cost of living, a Madison has a lot of natural and architectural beauty for very little financial output.


March 13, 2021
Madison, IN

The other day I was walking back from a downstream walk when I encountered a man who started talking about the birds he was hearing. I mentioned the woodpeckers that he might see along a particular stretch of woods.

He brought up the white goose that hangs out with the wild ones along the river here. He told me that he had seen it at the height of the flood, trying to paddle its way out of the water, and struggling in the current, probably too far from shore to save itself.

That is sad news. I think we have seen that gone-native goose the whole nine years we have been here. It seems some of the geese hang around all year, and the domestic goose was one of them.

I haven't seen it since the high water, but hold onto the hope that it might have saved itself where the river bends.


March 12, 2021
Madison, IN

I read somewhere once that ideas are a dime a dozen. If that's true, here's my dime - I'd give it for just my most recent idea that was so good I could never forget it. I've had at least two or three of those since I want to bed last night, but I'm writing about this instead. I guess somebody bought them dirt cheap while I was postponing writing.

Today I had my second coronavirus vaccine, and for those of you tracking the onset of my age-related dementia, I was not there on time.

For some reason I got the idea into my head that my appointment was not for 8:00 but for 8:30. It wasn't until my partner looked at the calendar at 8:00 and said it was for eight o'clock that I let go of that idea. (Truth be told, I really didn't disabuse myself of that notion until I checked my appointment card.)

So what was that about? Why do creative or truth-seeking ideas wander off into the unconscious ether while misinformation takes hold for dear life?

Some ideas aren't even worth a penny, obviously. But I think there's another moral to my little tale of woe.




March 11, 2021
Madison, Indiana

Looks like I maligned the crocuses - they are popping up all over. Many of the little pale lavender variety that people have growing in their lawns have suffered the same fate as the winter aconite, but the varieties with more substance look perfectly content.

Hellebore is also blooming. Now there's a flower that braves the end of winter. And daffodils with southern exposures are flowering , too. I even saw a festive clump of miniature Dutch irises.

No matter what the winter throws at us we are on our way to the bountiful seasons.

Meanwhile I am glorying in my ability to walk at any time of day in perfect comfort. I could live joyfully with weather like this for the next six months.



March 10, 2021
Madison, Indiana

Walking downstream this morning, I was surprised to see how much thick mud from the recent flood was still on the bricks of the river walk.

That was okay, though, because the silty roads are blocked off, too.

I made a point to walk past the patch of winter aconite I missed the glory of last year.

Today I caught it in full bloom - but alas, the blossoms had that brownish tint and translucent quality that they acquire when frozen. Only a couple of buds had that bright yellow of health that I hoped to see in masse this morning.

Sure, they weren't the first blooms of spring anyway; I saw oranges yellow crocuses yesterday. Those, however, looked suspiciously like recent transplants from a nursery. It's hard to believe they could beat winter aconite in the yearly race to bloom first.







March 9, 2021
Madison, Indiana

I have been trying to write faithfully every day, but yesterday I failed to do so because of oral surgery. It was only on our way to New Albany to have it performed that I found out I am excused from appearing for jury duty today.

Well it's a damn good thing I was excused, because not only am I swollen and grouchy but I have no way to get uptown on days my partner works.

I haven't lived here my whole life. I don't have uncles and children and second cousins twice removed at my beck and call to give me rides.

I do have a neighbor who has expressed a general willingness to give me a ride or the use of his truck, but what if I were to get involved with a trial that could last for weeks?

It would mean daily negotiations and adjustments.

Before coronavirus spacing became necessary, I could have walked four blocks to the courthouse for jury duty. In the first eight of the nine years I have lived here, I could have done that easily. Now, when it is problematical, I get the summons.

In fact, I am restless. I'm ready to move to a different town, a different state.

Or maybe I just have the season-change-instigated restlessness I have experienced throughout my life.

When you can't act on it, it sucks.


March 7, 2021
Madison, Indiana

Walking along the river just now we encountered quite a few people - all maskless, including us.

Spring is here and the floodwaters are receding so all of us have that "home free" feeling - deceptive, of course, when it comes to coronavirus.

This morning I heard something on the news about our citizens experiencing mass trauma induced by the pandemic.

I also saw a piece about the Pope addressing a huge crowd in some non-Catholic country. People were already seated and I think I saw maybe one mask in the visible crowd.

The seats were spaced about three feet apart - half the recommended distance for a fifteen minute masked encounter.

Ha, ha, experiencing an occasion like that could induce another kind of mass trauma!



March 6, 2021
Madison, IN

The river's going down. I'm going up.

The sky is very blue. I'm not!

The sun is shining - I am fading.

The puddles are shallow, but I'm not wading.


March 5, 2021
Madison, IN

Two newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post, have forced my hand with regards to online subscriptions.

The New York Times, which offered me a very limited service for $4.00 a month, seemed to expect me to sign in with a password. I balked, and they basically told me, what is, is. Oh well, I don't remember my password and don't want the hassle of looking it up every time I want to read a newspaper article, but I do occasionally get a freebie on Facebook. Four dollars a month is like a charity.

The Washington Post offered me a more complete deal for $10.00 per month. Why not? That's cheap for a newspaper subscription, isn't it? ( I may have gotten them both on the same day.)

When I wanted more than just a beginning of the article, though, the Washington Post wanted my password.

Look, folks. I understand all this new restrictive attitude on the part of all sites (it seems) is supposed to be for my own protection. Financially, perhaps?

But I don't have a ton of money to protect. All I have is my time, really. I don't want to spend it looking up passwords. Not to mention that the aggravation I endure might give me a stroke. Very expensive, that.

I decided to cancel my subscription to the WaPo. After all, I wasn't reading $10.00 per month worth of stuff, anyway.

I tried to call them, and got a list of numbers including a help line, but I figured I'd try to do it online. After a series of choices which I have forgotten, I was told I would have to sign in - to cancel!

So I called my credit card company to cancel payments. The very nice woman who dealt with me told me she would put in a request to cancel payments. I responded, am I not the king of my own credit card account? She said she was not sure exactly what would happen. I told her fine, go ahead, I would also try again to get in touch with the Washington Post.

This time I succeeded and spoke with an also very nice young man and explained to him my discontent. He wanted to help me change my password. I said, I don't want to change my password, I want to cancel my subscription! He said I would need my password in order to cancel my subscription.

Are you detecting any circles here? I myself am dizzy with them.

So I told him I had already cancelled payments starting with the next scheduled payment.

He then very politely changed his tune and said I would get a refund of $7 something for the current month. I wasn't asking for that, but hey, okay.

Am I being terribly unreasonable here? Surely there are thousands of people like me who would just like to open their newspaper. The "printed" media might be losing hundreds of thousands by not catering to us a little.

When newspapers for which I have a subscription ask me for a password, it feels to me like having to give a secret code number to the postman who delivers mail to my door.

Forget it. I'm done.



March 4, 2021
Madison, IN

Yesterday I heard for the first time that the supporters of insurrectionist Trump were going to make a move and he would be reoccupying the White House.

Today on the news I heard that the threat was also against the Capitol and that Congress has been suspended for the next few days.

So far, nothing.

The rising of the river has made more of an impact on my days lately than anything else, although the murder of a darling little boy upstream in Ohio makes me a little worried about what I might encounter while walking the edges of the flood.

Today I walked downstream, crossing lands whose ownership is unknown to me just to stay close to the edge of the flood. It's as if the trespass of the water gives me permission to do the same.

I don't think anyone minds; we all feel the same way. I saw one couple standing fishing in the middle of Plum St.(?), blocked from vehicular by the city because of the flood.

One wood has been tempting me particularly. It has undergone significant thinning in the last few years  and now has a path going through it. I don't know what structure used to occupy that land, but it definitely had some civilized function; daffodil shoots are growing there.

The loss of trees and other vegetation makes me sad. It used to be practically impenetrable - the home of foxes.
Now I haven't seen a fox in years.


March 3, 2021
Madison, IN

I love meteorological Spring, March 1.

It is Spring! The day is glorious and the spring flooding is underway. The Ohio River is at action stage, scheduled to reach its height tomorrow or Saturday.


March 2, 2021
Madison, IN

Corona virus deaths in our county, Jefferson, have reached seventy-three. Deaths in the state of Indiana are 12,595.

It's mind-blowing; but getting online to see if it was one of the top causes of death in 2020 and seeing that Covid19 is not even mentioned on some sites is even more mind-blowing.

No wonder we have confusion about what is fact and what is fiction.

I think, therefore I think I am. But most people don't even know I exist. So do, I really, or am I thinking in someone else's imagination? Even a hack romance writer's concept of an old hag - or worse?

Hmmm... I do believe my mind has blown long since.



What gives?


March 1, 2021
Madison, IN

Most of the year I don't think about it, but when it rolls around I think of March 1 as one of my favorite days of the year. Banish February! Bring on the lion! March 1 is truly the beginning of the end of winter.

Sadly, I did have a wonderful single statement punchy epigrammatic observation that I did not write down and of course forgot.

Not perhaps too cheerful a way to say farewell to winter.

Well, perhaps a goodbye would be a little premature, but I genuinely can say, "Hello, light! Welcome home!"

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