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Rumilluminations May 2021
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sat, May 01 2021 - 11:26 am

May 31, 2021
Madison, IN

Gorgeous day outside, but I spent it sorting, discarding, consolidating for the move.

What a way to spend the last day of one of my favorite months!

What was I thinking?

June first will just not feel the same.

May 30, 2021
Madison, Indiana

Gorgeous May day for my walk: sun, river and hills all at their best spring brilliancy. The front yard of the old cotton mill that is being turned into a convention hotel has changed drastically; the large trees that used to be there are gone. Not even a stump remains. The ground has been smoothed. The windows, formerly flapping with torn plastic, are all repaired or replaced.

I see a flock of dark geese along the river upstream, grazing like cattle. I'm pretty sure I could not have decided to leave Madison on a day like today.

Just as I finish thinking this I see - among the wild geese - the missing white goose! Or a missing white domestic goose. I can't pretend to tell one goose from another.

It's nice to think the struggling goose managed to save itself in spite of appearances and return several weeks later.

May 29, 2021
Madison, IN

Hoarding is considered a disease.

How about minimalism?

The only situation in which minimalism would be considered sick, it seems to me, would be in the case of anorexia.

I haven't found yet a list of traits of different levels  of addiction to minimalism, but one anti-minimalist commentator said you couldn't be a minimalist and own art.

By that definition I definitely would not be a minimalist - but then, I never thought I was, anyway.

May 28, 2021
Madison, IN

Did my daughter offer me a helicopter ride, or did I dream it?

Am I following the white goose down the river?

The thought makes me wonder if Carl Sandburg's fancy was right: that completely arbitrary things and events influence our lives with complete unconsciousness on our parts. My source? The Rootabaga Tales.

All I know is that shortly after we moved here, I started seeing a white goose hanging out with the wild ones. We saw her for years. Now, a few months after her disappearance, I'm heading West. (Hmm... I never knew the sex of that goose. Why am I making it a female?)
We're always making up stories, anyway, about why we do what we do and what happens to us. Why not grow some wings?

Was the helicopter ride gift a dream? Did my daughter really suggest such a tantalizing/terrifying adventure?

If she did, I just might take her up on her offer.

May 27, 2021
Madison, IN

Marriage:  A church excuse for praying

Men's excuse for straying, 

Women's excuse for staying.

May 26, 2021
Madison, IN

Today's walk was redolent of honeysuckle, which many environmentalists would like to get rid of. I'm conflicted about getting rid of what is already established. If it brings people joy, maybe it should be allowed to remain in town alleys and gardens.

The cicadas are beginning to emerge here. I have seen the empty shells around - also possibly live but very torpid newly emerged creatures. I haven't heard any sounds from them, but those would have to be pretty loud to overpower the constant insect singing ring of my tinnitus. I'm enjoying the prospect of the possible racket large populations would produce, because I intend to move to Silver City, New Mexico within the next month or two.

Whatever noises I might encounter there, I am pretty sure cicadas will not be among them.

May 25, 2021
Madison, IN

Oink, oink, truffle snuffle.

Big pig dancing jig.

Mayhem, amen!

Trading mud for cracking dirt,

Sweat-wet shirt for dry striped chert

Rock and roll, Ohio River, to the sea.

It's the rocky mountains for me.

May 24, 2021
Madison, IN

83 dead from coronavirus in Jefferson County, Indiana.

Even in the highly protected U.S. the impact on the total population is staggering.

People recall 9/11 with horror. We are supposed to commemorate it and honor those who were damaged or destroyed by their direct involvement trying to mitigate its effect.

In the end, though, the coronavirus has had a magnitude of damage (or should I say effect) incalculably larger than 9/11.

For some folks it has meant good fortune. For others, disaster. For most of us the effect of the pandemic has been mixed. 

In destruction to the former fabric of our lives, it is not comparable to any physical or geological disaster I have ever heard of, in spite of the fact that its survivors are walking around and talking as if everything were normal.

At least in the U.S.

I doubt that the response in India is so casual.

May 23, 2021
Madison, IN

External beauty is not enough, in the end. Magical maybe, but not enough, and I am not talking about people.

The same does go for people, of course.

May 22, 2021
Madison, IN

Carlos Castaneda wrote that warriors, if they were born in a big city, would end their lives in a small town - and vice versa.

For some reason that thought has grabbed me, and looking at my past and future possible trajectories I toy with the idea.

What about if you move from small town to small city back and forth in different states? Don't you need to be a warrior to do that? Or does that just make you a vagrant?

When I found myself back in my hometown to help my parents (and spare myself further job-hunting in Corvallis, Oregon, for whom this blahg is named) I proved myself more of a caregiver than a warrior, for sure - including caregiver for myself.

Dang. I always thought my Robin Hood leanings in adolescence were aiming me more towards warrior-like behavior. Where did I go wrong?

Anyway, what started me on this train of thought to begin with was a memory of meeting the former mayor of my home town. I commented that he had been in my sister's high school graduating class and mentioned her name.

He remembered her intelligence and revealed that he found her a little intimidating.

This from a man who became mayor!

No wonder my warrior sister left that small town.

Others, it seems to me, have to be warriors to remain. I wonder why they do.

Ironic that in a society where physical warriors are mostly inappropriate our popular culture is obsessed with physical powers and conflict, and many real people seem to be preparing for revolution.

Ironic? It's terrifying!

Why am I even thinking about this? Carlos Castaneda wrote all kinds of crazy fiction, wondering how gullible our culture really could be, I guess.

By the way, it is believed Castaneda was born in Cajamarca, Peru, a city of about 225,000 now. I think that rates as a big city in Peru. He died in Los Angeles, California. I guess he wasn't much of a warrior.

Ha, ha, ha! Me neither.

May 21, 2021
Madison, IN

It's so warm I keep thinking that today is the first day of summer, and meteorologically, it is! And the first day of astronomical summer is linguistic midsummer.

What a daisy chain!

Ha, ha I love the way some people can't understand why you can't be who they are... don't they realize that space is taken?

May 20, 2021
Madison, IN

Now I have heard that some people are getting uptight about vaccinated folks who are not wearing masks because we might be shedding coronavirus fragments that could harm them somehow or make them sick.

The Kentucky Derby winner has tested positive for forbidden drugs. I missed the Preakness because the pleasures and pressures of a family visit in another state distracted me from the race.

No wonder pretty much all I do at home these is chores, errands, TV shows and movies and book reading. Maybe I should go back to writing more about those pastimes.

Walking down Main Street the other day I saw at least three Help Wanted signs on businesses. I was almost moved to apply. Then I remembered how I was treated the last couple of times I tried to work in our brave new world.

No. I don't want a job. The young are more fitted to work, and even they won't do it.

I have some other plans.

May 19, 2021
Madison, IN

This is the year I move, I think.

I am too distracted to write much, so forgive me if I don't. Maybe I will get out of myself enough to think about something than my own concerns, but I can't guarantee it.

Coronavirus deaths in the county up to 82 at the same time our town, with many vaccinated, has loosened up a little about mask wearing.

At the same time the disease is playing havoc with India and many other nations of the world.

Horror of horrors, there are many dire long-term consequences for those who have contracted the virus. I don't know if these aftereffects of the infection occur in the young who have had mild cases as well as those hospitalized with more severe cases. I assume more information will be available later.

At least we are able to travel more now. Next month I will be writing from Cincinnati, OH and Albuquerque, New Mexico as well as the small city which has been our home for the past nine years.

May 18, 2021
Madison, IN

Back home again in Indiana. The flight home was smoother than the flight out to Denver, for which I was grateful.

Madison is much bloomier (heh - I know) than I expected. The weather must have been ideal for prolonging blossoms!

This is physically a very beautiful town.

Too bad I am so restless.

May 16, 2021
Thornton, CO

Yesterday we strolled around the University of Colorado at Boulder a bit,  then visited Pearl Street Mall, replete with a street seen the like of which I have not seen for years: marimba and violin buskers and a fire eater a hungry fire in our bellies wouldn't let us stop for.

Crowds on the street! Still masked for the most part, but pretty numerous for a slightly cool and cloudy day. The shopping opportunities were colorful and varied. If we had come to Colorado by car I would have bought more, but managing stuff on the plane is difficult.

This morning we went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. My favorite was the gem and mineral exhibit, which organized its displays by families of minerals. If I lived here I would have to go once a month, to help solve the mystery rocks in our collection at home. What fun!

One gigantic cut gem - one of the largest in the world - was a clear topaz originally owned by Salvador Dali.

May 15, 2021
Thornton, CO

Day before yesterday we visited the Buffalo Bill Museum and burial site of the same man - William Cody - and his wife "Lulu" (and what a story that marriage makes! I saw very little if any of that in the museum.) The monument is obviously a popular tourist destination - the goal of a classic American pilgrimage.

Lots of bicyclists mingle with the cars going up and down the winding roads of Lookout Mountain. Between the fabulous views and the museum you can spend hours there if you have the time - which alas, we did not. It would certainly take a covered wagon full of persistence to see and read everything in that chockfull historical display even if you had all day.

The site reports the bitter dispute Golden, Colorado had with Cody, Wyoming to be the location for the permanent burial of Bill (who was born into a Quaker family, significantly.)

It's hard to believe that Cody, Wyoming was hurt much by its failure to win that dispute. Currently its population is about ten thousand - half of Golden's twenty - but that could easily be attributed to Golden's mining school and close proximity to Denver.

Speaking of which: I visited the town of Golden briefly from my sister's home in Denver once before - about a decade ago. I remembered the trip from Denver to Golden as a long leisurely drive into the wilds of Colorado. I have imagined it ever since as quite isolated.

This time we had to take Interstate 70, the cars like a herd of stampeding buffalo, and I never really had time to feel that we had abandoned civilization. It was a very different outing from the last - both tours provided by my sister. 

We wanted to see the mining school's exhibits also - but our time ran out and we charged back to Denver.

It might be fun to live in Golden, Colorado for a while; it seems to be a multidimensional place and close to the big exciting City of Denver.

Those folks who would prefer being close to the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, though, might prefer Cody, Wyoming.

For me, choosing between them might not be easy! I'll have to visit Cody.

May 14, 2021
Thornton, CO

Ha, ha, our society sure seems to love vomit. What used to be implied by a rush to the bathroom now has to be visually depicted in ever more realistic horror.

Literally, too. As casual imagery and reference as well as unfortunate reaction to disease or shock.

And look at all the words and phrases we have for it! Vomiting, upchucking, puking, hurling, reaching, heaving, tossing one's cookies - and those are all old ones. I bet younger generations have many more expressions for what in my life is one of the worst common experiences.

It isn't an everyday one, though.  Why would we want to be constantly reminded of it, as I am doing for you right now?

Just reflecting my culture, and you are very welcome.

Heh heh.

May 13, 2021
Thornton, CO

After my discovery that the suburb of Thornton, Colorado is a city of 100,000, I realize that I should give it as the location I am writing from instead of Denver - at least, when I am not writing about Denver proper, and right now I am not.

It is the middle of the night here. For years now I have been reading books on that no-longer-new invention, Kindle, although in my life it seems very new indeed.

In the last year or so I have taken to reading , in the middle of the night, several books at the same time. Right now, for instance, I have just read a chapter of The Women Who Won the War. Tonight - if I read for long enough - I will read a Conan Doyle short story about Sherlock Holmes, a usually very short chapter from one version of Marco Polo's report of his travels in Asia, and a fiction mystery entitled Stripped Bare.

This results in some learning discoveries which may never have happened if I were reading only one book at a time.

For instance, a week or so I finished reading Manic - a memoir written by a highly talented civil trial lawyer with bipolar disorder - followed (tonight) by a description of Sherlock Holmes that basically identifies him as suffering from the same mental illness: an essentially sleepless manic state lasting days or weeks followed by prostration.

Well, you might say duh, but this little bit of illuminating synthesis might have taken a long time to gel in my mind if I had read those two works one after the other with weeks interposed between them.

My point? This would have never happened with books in the form of paper from trees. Lifting them and putting them down would have been burdensome and time-consuming, and keeping my place cumbersome.

There is a qualitative difference here as well as a quantitative one. What it might mean exactly I do not know, but if you extrapolate from that to what is happening all around us today - that is, in almost constant internet use by almost everybody, the possible consequences are mind-boggling.

At least to me.

Hey, these are my ruminations. I can only hope they might be useful to you.

Sigh. Sherlock has already been self-diagnosed as autistic in Benedict's performance. Now I will have to study up some about other possible diagnoses, or speculate whether Conan Doyle intentionally gave him a whole variety of mental disorders to make him more interesting.

I'm afraid this (possible) insight just makes me wonder if all the movers and shakers of the world are wildly crazy as well as effective - whether for good or evil.


May 12, 2021
Denver, CO

This morning my sisters and I took a new train from the suburb of Thornton (really a city - 100,000 strong) to Union Station downtown to the museum district.

Our goal was the Clyfford Still Museum, which houses nearly 95% of his work. He felt that an artist's work should be viewed without the distraction of work by other artists. He was an abstract expressionist before almost anyone else and put the U.S. in the forefront of the art world.

A good deal of his work is very dark indeed: not surprising considering his experience of the Depression and a world torn by World War Two. The works on display are changing, so a future visit will expose you to a different part of the collection; it will be different every time.

These coronavirus days you must get online (maybe call?) for an appointment to visit the gallery. As a reward for planning ahead you get a relatively private view of the artwork. Alas, masks are required.

Denver is an exciting city to visit - architecturally stimulating to say the least.

May 11, 2021
Denver, CO

Really Thornton, a Denver suburb. This morning we went for a walk in a new park which had fabulous play structures for kids and lakes with wading and water birds. American avocado, killdeer, red-winged blackbirds were among them.

It's a good thing we walked in the morning, because it rained this afternoon  - on top of several inches of snow that fell last night.

That's what people say about Colorado - it may have four seasons: you just never know which one is going to visit tomorrow.

May 10, 2021
Denver, CO

Surprise! Safe in Denver after a bumpy swerving landing.  The view from the plane? Clouds all the way!

First time I have been back West in two years. Double-masked the whole flight except for sipping water.

The flight was full, the Denver airport crowded. I would not recommend this destination unless you have been vaccinated.

Yay! Family to talk with, places to see - tomorrow.

May 9, 2021
Madison IN

As feared, the white goose has not returned. It is probably lost, carried away by the Spring floods.

Unlike me, carried away in the Spring and Fall by restlessness, more like the warblers. (I know, I flatter myself.)

Except I don't get carried away. Ironic that living along one of the biggest rivers in the States I have dwelled here longer than any other abode in my adult life.

Maybe seeing the barges and touring showboats and motor boats and yachts (do you call them yachts when they are not ocean-going?) supplies enough movement that a person doesn't feel as much need to move herself.

Except this year I do. It has been too long.

I mentioned my seasonal restlessness to my sister and she said it is universal. "That's what inspired the Canterbury Tales" (which I have not yet read, by the way.)

People go on pilgrimages because they get restless? Not because of religious fervor?

Makes you wonder what inspires religious observation.

Does "I need to meditate" and "this problem requires prayer" really mean "I want to be alone!"?

"I'm going to church" is an unimpeachable excuse to get away from home. It might be poor entertainment, but it makes for a different environment and there is the possibility of socializing, if that is what a person requires.

Not to mention all the violence and manipulation that has been justified by religious impulse.

Nah, it's too late to make an Easter pilgrimage to Santuario de Guadalupe anyway.

I guess I'll just go on vacation.

May 8, 2021
Madison IN

The people on the political Right in this country think it's okay to avail themselves of social programs that supply them with aid when they need it (ancestors of Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney come to mind, as well as an erstwhile friend of mine).

Now the supporters of the Left are showing their true colors. Jobs abound, but these so-called supporters of the common good are not taking them. The double disability offered by the government for not working makes them disinclined to go back to work. 

While this is understandable, it could be argued it is not for the common good. I remember being shocked to learn people intentionally didn't get jobs while on unemployment compensation so they could take their entire six months of partly paid vacation.

While my mother mocked me for wanting to feel needed, I think it is too bad that so many people in our society feel unneeded.

The multi-billionaires in our country could easily do more for it. The amount of money I earned in a year in my heyday could be multiplied by thousands and not take away a thing from their lifestyle. Noblesse oblige, aristocrats! Take care of your government and its people - your fellow citizens, who put you where you are.

Going back to work would demand a greater real sacrifice from those in the middle and lower classes, but their failure to do so is dumping a killing load on those who remain on the job. Those workers - my partner among them - are often doing the jobs of two or three in their workplaces. Imagine the stress!

And let's face it: if you don't take work when you are needed, work might not be there for you when you need it.

It looks as if Ayn Rand, (dead for how many years now?) may yet be in a position to take down our society. Not singlehandedly, though. She must have more devotees than Jesus.

May 7, 2021
Madison IN

The big tree-blooming orgy of May is almost over, but the other day I smelled the intense aroma of lilac without at first spotting the shrubs. Yesterday I walked by the wisteria at the Lanier mansion and it is just budding with cone-like form. Only one or two of the little blooms that comprise the inflorescences had popped. Today the featured exhibit was a few locusts blossoms along the bridge. These are normally some of the sweetest, but I couldn't catch a whiff today.

When I walked on the bridge today, I had another kind of whiff - the memory of when I walked it with my one and only English as a Second Language student from Japan. I'm afraid I didn't do very well by her as a student, but we did have fun.

Lots of jobs sound easy enough, but their simplicity is deceptive. The only consolation I had for my inadequacy was that I was a volunteer. Still a lame excuse.

The memory of her is a bittersweet one for another reason: I wonder if she is happy she is not in the U.S. today? Given the awful treatment Asians are receiving from the racist element of our population she may well be glad.

May 5, 2021
Madison, IN

Oh, the irony! I remember my youthful days when I was too young for some jobs.

Then, right around the time I graduated from college in 1969, there was a glut of college graduates. I figured I would go to graduate school to avoid getting stuck in a "shit job."

My graduate studies didn't pan out (maybe I was in the wrong field?) so I found myself in the job market again in 1971. Not a good time to be looking for work. I never heard all the lyrics for "Wooden Ships" but I heard the words "We are leaving... You don't need us." I thought they referred to my generation "dropping out." I certainly felt they applied to me. (Decades later my mother would mock me for my own need to feel needed, as she perceived me.)

I got lucky in the early nineties when I really needed work and worked for several years, but a year or two after I moved to a new state the job market became more difficult - part of the tailspin caused by the destruction of the twin towers in New York City and its aftermath.

Once I hit my midfifties, back in my home town, I didn't find it easy to find work, so I stopped trying. One place I visited was a factory. Those folks had no need of me, for sure.

Now that I am seventy-three (73!!!) the factories are begging for workers. I'm a little tempted to test their level of desperation. It would be nice to have a bigger barrier between us and the wolves at the door.

But no. My immediate need is not great enough to counteract my aversion to interviews, evaluation, ageism and judgment.

The sad thing is that the kids who could walk into these jobs don't seem able to face working at all. They fear the inevitable exploitation.

Too bad we won't allow immigrants to come in and work.

We need them.

May 4, 2021
Madison, IN

Rainy gloomy May day with flowering trees browning and blasted tulips frowning and tree peonies flopping.

What will these rains bring? I'm tempted to call this recent weather the May Monsoons.

May 3, 2021
Madison, IN

It's hard to imagine the plague-like conditions in India now, all because of the coronavirus pandemic.

People in our small town are much more relaxed. I had not heard about any more deaths from the virus, but evidently our grand total is now 81 deaths. Sometimes I walk into a small shop and there are three or four of us without masks because we are all vaccinated. Life is a lot more like normal.

Maybe it shouldn't be, though. Evidently our county is one of very few in the state in which coronavirus cases are again climbing. Time to be reminded that we should not relax yet.

Meanwhile the pandemic rages still in India, where deaths in the street are not uncommon. The suffering is unimaginable.

Yet some people persist in saying there is not enough happening in the world to keep cable news networks busy for 24 hours a day.

It's true it would not be healthy to watch too much world news because it is too sad and depressing, but I am a little shocked at how much information we are not getting until fifty or seventy-five years later.

More and more I find myself irritated because for once in my life I have come to the realization that if I have to wait fifty years for the truth, I won't get it at all.


May 2, 2021
Madison, IN

Whew! I just wrote a whole article I had to erase because I wrote it in a state of confusion.

The funny thing is, it was about the verse

The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on
Nor all your piety nor wit can lure it back to cancel half a line
Nor all your tears wash out a word of it

...but ha, ha, I just did! I wrote on the wall and now it is gone.

...unless someone managed to read it before I deleted it... and of course it is still virtually alive, at least for a while before its electronic last gasp...

And now it is in my memory, even if no one else stumbled upon it before I erased it....

Oh Reality! Oh what is and always will be!

I bow before thy might.

No tears tonight. Just blushes.

Just flights and crashes.

May 1, 2021
Madison, IN

Enough brain and navel gazing!

Happy May Day!

After being nestled (or trapped - whatever) in Indiana for going on two years I am taking my superpower of relative immunity and going out into the world.

Today is for a fine weather walk wearing my new eyeglasses, shopping (Fine Threads), garden touring (Lanthier Winery - which has some Indiana wines as well as colorful blooms) and hopefully eating outside at the Lighthouse Restaurant.

Today is for sun, sun, sun and the rhyming f-word. Time to get out, time to go wild and pagan and dance around a May pole, if you can find one.

Hope you haven't spent all your stimulus money on a new TV. That's a winter sport.

Of course, speaking of sports, there is the Kentucky Derby later today. The weather couldn't be better!

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