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Rumilluminations June 2021
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Tue, June 01 2021 - 10:32 am

June 30, 2021
Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque is the largest city in which I've spent years rather than afternoons or days or months. It has always presented challenges, some too difficult for me to navigate, evidently, because I have never stayed for long. Two two-year stints at most.

In fact, now it is three times as large as it was when I first came to study here. It's a much more beautiful and powerful place than it was then, but it still seems to me a challenging place to live.

I navigated the city back in those days - the late nineteen-sixties and early seventies - mostly by foot, bike and bus. One time while we were living in the South Valley, my husband and I walked all the way home from the Guild Cinema east of the University of New Mexico to 121 1/2 Lansing off Bridge Street and on the other side of the Rio Grande - the big river (actually the sometimes wide, shallow, puddly river thanks to upstream irrigation. (Come to think of it, I have been here almost three days and haven't seen the river yet!)) That was probably a trek of 4.5 miles but at the time I thought it was at least five miles. We did that one time only, but we never drove. We didn't have an automobile.

Today my daughters and I went shopping for clothes and succeeded in finding summer stuff at The Gap, Eddie Bauer, the store contiguous to Chico's which is still the same company, and Anthropologie. We purchased a stunning bouquet of hydrangeas at Agave Florist.

We picked up dinner at a local pizzeria and had a family reunion get together - the first time in over two years for me. Many of the people we met today were positively loveable. I would love to frequent their places of business.

To be honest, though, I still find the idea of living in Albuquerque just too challenging. It has a bustling aura of striving and struggle.

I'm afraid walking a small town is still my speed. Silver City, here I come! 

 - again, to finish setting up my home - next week.

June 28, 2021
Albuquerque, NM

After the heat wave that hit New Mexico last week, it has turned unseasonably cool - a blessing when we took the grandkids to play in their neighborhood park with other local and vacationing young ones.

When the boys started doing cartwheels I was tempted to try one myself, but when I remembered the consequence (failure) of trying to stand on my head a decade ago I squelched the desire. Wouldn't want to risk ruining anyone's day with a trip to the hospital. Short of that, trying to visualize my potential form I fell short of being pleased with the results. I imagined a big derriere followed by a fall on my face.

Maybe I'll try some day with fewer witnesses - perhaps just one person to spot me.

Meanwhile I wore myself out with the unaccustomed activities of pushing swings and merry go rounds, in spite of helpful young men of eight and maybe twenty- eight who seemed to enjoy the activity.

One couple put their very young son on the merry go round. He looked a bit dubious about the whole business, but when the kids took over and pushed him fast he broke into a big smile!

What a pleasure to see.

June 27, 2021
Albuquerque, NM

Whew. My stuff is in my new (Victorian) studio apartment in Silver City, New Mexico and now I'm visiting family. This is pretty much the first time I've been a position to write since we left Springfield, Missouri, between lack of access, busyness, and personal exhaustion.

I'm really pleased with my situation in Silver City. There is a food co-op with the best looking vegetables I have seen in decades three blocks from home.

If you are planning to visit soon, the Gila Mountain Inn will rent a room for a total of around fifty dollars. This is one hundred dollars less than with of the other hotels we quartered in on our grueling voyage. Believe me, the difference in accommodations was not worth one hundred dollars.

The woman who checked us in said she has met dozens of people who have felt pulled to Silver City since January of this year.

That is really cool - or maybe almost scary!

June 20, 2021
Springfield, Mo

Finished packing the car and took Interstates. Not much fun, actually, but we did cross the Mississippi, see the St. Louis arch and beautiful green hills as far as the eye could see. Or were they the Ozark Mountains?

This is not a pleasure trip. It is a grueling cross country trek that would have taken months a century or two ago. Ha! Viewed that way it is a piece of cake. Easy by comparison, even, but then I'm not the driver.

June 19, 2021
Madison, IN

When today, my last full day in Madison, started at midnight I had been up for over half an hour hearing and watching a colossal thunderstorm. It may have been the longest storm we've experienced here; the crashing and downpour and thrashing wind lasted at least two hours.

Before breakfast I took a little walk and ran into a Red Cross volunteer outside the office on Main Street. He had a trailer parked a few feet away, standing by to help anyone who needed it, but he had seen only two families so far. Estimating that twenty local families had to leave their homes last night because of flooding, he will be available to help them all day once they have had a chance to assess the damage to their homes.

Harold "Dean" Stewart, Jr. is a good advocate for the Red Cross. He says that most of the people involved with the organization are volunteers, and it needs volunteers more than it needs money. Spending 50-60 hours per week at his regular job, Dean is still on call nights and all day Sundays, and gets called up once a month or so for fires, floods and tornados; the town of Mercer got struck by a tornado last night.

I promised to look into helping the Red Cross in Silver City, but now it occurs to me that they might be able to use some more help today.

Look into it, won't you? Maybe I'll see you there.

June 18, 2021
Madison, IN

The median projection of the world population by 2025 is over eight billion? That is more than disturbing - it is mind-boggling. When I was born in 1947 it was more like 2.4 billion. The numbers back then are so iffy that the tables claiming accuracy don't go back that far.

Our recent  coronavirus devastation is just a blip in the screen compared to those numbers - especially since most of the deaths were suffered by those who were no longer likely to contribute to the population explosion.

It's very ironic that local businesses and companies contracted to provide services to local institutions can't get help during a time when immigrants can't get into the country to do the jobs at least temporarily spurned by our own citizens.

Too bad I'm not in the labor market now. 

June 17, 2021
Madison, IN

In Silver City I intend to try my hand at some serious (heh) writing projects.

In a spirit of humility and awareness that I might be more than a little out of date in my lack of awareness as to how work must be presented in order to get "out there" to the public I Binged "writers' equipment."

The number one search response?

Paper and pen.

Are these people for real?

Am I for real?

I'm going to try Googling the same thing and see what comes up.

Oh, what the hell. I've barely scratched the surface of this and come to the realization that what a writer really needs is to be of at least two minds. More are preferable.

And peace and quiet... or maybe not.

June 16, 2021
Madison, IN

This morning I sat on the balcony to drink my coffee and heard something like a mourning dove - but not quite. In quick succession the same bird imitated song sparrow, blue jay, Carolina wren, cardinal, and cat bird, plus other assorted and unidentified songs.

This is the first time I have heard a mockingbird singing from that balcony perch of ours in years. He was quite accomplished.

On our walk along the river we saw a heron fishing. Once I leave Madison it may be years before I see those birds again.

I'm managing to say goodbye to at least a few of our local acquaintances - Ann and Nathan at the Village Lights bookstore today and hopefully Alan and Barbara at Gifts that Last (rocks, fossils, and all kinds of surprising ethnic items) tomorrow.  Over the years, along with the folks at the Hong Kong Kitchen, they have probably been my favorite local businesses, all within the same block a five-minute walk away. May I be so lucky in Silver City!

The car is practically stuffed to the grills (heh) but of course there is still more I want to take. No matter. You never know what will work in a small studio apartment until you see the space for yourself.

June 14, 2021
Madison, IN

Reading about female reporters of World War II in Women Who Wrote the War by Nancy Caldwell Sorel is giving me a very different perspective of war than can be obtained by broad and sweeping political descriptions that I used to read in history books.

Having to read about war at all is still hateful, but the much more personal experiences of the reporters and the soldiers they are describing convey the absolute chaos much better than any battle plan could.

One thing confuses me. The women and soldiers are described as "liberating" cars and other possessions of the fleeing enemy, with no censure at all. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't that the same as looting?

An eye-opening factor of the descriptions of entering  supposedly defeated areas is the reported sniper fire and still-resisting pockets of soldiers present after a town was already "taken."

There were also more concentration camps throughout the area taken by Germans than I was ever aware existed. We tend to hear about a few of the biggest ones, bit there were hundreds scattered throughout Germany and its conquered territories.

Makes it harder to believe civilians were unaware of what was going on around them during the years 1939 to 1945.

June 13, 2021
Madison, IN

Went downriver for a change today. I saw a gaggle of geese sheltering in a shady place on the river I've never seen the geese before. It must be the hot weather.

The Ohio River is something I will miss bitterly. The view we have from our apartment is arguably the best I will have in my whole life. Maybe I will in the future have one as good, but if so it will probably be very different.

This departure is coming at the ideal time of year, actually. The hot humidity of summer is the most difficult for me to endure here, and I am squeaking out just under the wire of the astronomical summer. We will experience Summer Solstice either on the road or in Silver City.

Unfortunately this summer is expected to be the hottest and driest in the Southwest in recorded history. In leaving the fine coal particles of our place downwind of the power plant for cleaner air (one of many motives for my relocation) I may be leaping into an area subject to smoke pollution.

I can only control one thing about that: I will not start a fire myself!

Only, hopefully, within myself.

June 12, 2021
Madison, IN

Well, what do you know. The loud music stopped at 9:20 or so - I think. 

I suppose it might have picked up again later. If so, I didn't hear it.

Why the change, I wonder? Closer attention to obeying or enforcing ordinances?

Coronavirus misgivings?

Or maybe even entertainers and audiences have just gotten lazier.

Ha! Why do we ever think we know reality?

The possibilities are endless.

P.S. Speaking of reality, I just found out Jefferson County, Indiana has had 85 deaths from Covid19 as of yesterday. Due to lack of vaccination by so many of our residents more deaths are expected.

June 11, 2021
Madison, IN

Golden sunlight, pounding bass drum, rock music oldies, congenial conversation from the outdoors downstairs - this is Madison weekend concert time.

My partner thinks it is a prelude to some outdoor revival preaching screaming.

I hope not.

We shall see. At any rate, it means loud music at ten o'clock p.m. when we are trying to sleep; my partner has to report to work at 4:30 in the morning at the latest.

This will probably happen for at least two nights this weekend.

I wonder what aural assaults I will experience in my next town?

Today is the second day of my ten day countdown to takeoff.

June 10, 2021
Madison, IN

I have a writing plan for when I get to my next location kind of patterned after the way I have been reading lately - promiscuously.

Hmm... That word in the context where you usually find it reminded me of the sexual habits of one of the Khans of old China, who according to Marco Polo had seven young virgins to choose from every night. They were chosen by the thousands from all over the empire - all the most beautiful, supposedly.

The great ruler would only choose three of the seven for his bed chamber; the others would watch over the situation, run errands, who knows what else.

I bet Joseph Smith, in his fascination with the Old Testament, also read Marco Polo's description of his journeys and the sweet sexual setup of the Khans.

I bet he came as close as he possibly could in our society and with his meager non-inherited means and title. 

I can't help but think the men in our society who choose to become Mormons have a secret hankering for that lifestyle.

I imagine that the women, of course, have the understanding that the modern Morman church is not that way any more.

Note the "I" beginning almost every paragraph in this highly postjudiced piece of fantasy about Joseph and his followers.

This is an opinion piece, for sure.

Just - why is Mormonism the fastest growing religion?


June 9, 2021
Madison, IN

My current move has necessitated several forays into new (to me) technology. The first was a vain attempt to set up a video tour with the real estate agent from whom I hoped to rent a studio apartment. That failed, I am not sure why, and my daughter took the virtual tour instead. Thank heaven she could, because they were absolutely not going to rent to anyone sight unseen. 

This morning I tried to use a jumbo vacuum bag that is designed to be packed, emptied of air with a vacuum cleaner hose, then sealed. I filled the bag with what seemed an appropriate amount of stuff and tried to remove the air with a canister vacuum. It didn't work.

My next proposition is to have my partner flop himself down on one of those plastic monstrosities and mush all possible air out while I seal it up three times.

It ought to be fun.

June 8, 2021
Madison, Indiana

Yesterday this town was as beautiful as I have ever seen it. There are still hydrangeas, dogwood, honeysuckle and giant magnolias blooming, weighted down with their own abundance.

More homes than ever are being bought up, fixed up, and decked out with gorgeous landscaping.

The housing market is up, supposedly. House prices are probably rising here, too, but maybe there is a slight lag in the trend that would make it a good time to buy.

I am not in the market for a house.  I plan now never to own property or I might be tempted to buy a place here myself.

Spring is almost past, though. A humid sweltering summer is abhorrent to me. I've lived through enough of those.

And some of us just have to see the other side of the mountain.

June 6, 2021
Madison, IN

Moving is the pits. I wish we (or I) had moved when we had to do all that packing to get rid of the bedbugs. At that time we painted the walls of the apartment and I hoped we were good for another seven years. Maybe it will do for my partner.

Then coronavirus hit and I have not seen my children or grandchildren for over two years.

That is just too long.

It is supposed to rain here for seven days straight. That is too long, also. I know the crops need rain and so does the vegetation, but I have lived away from my family and the great Southwest for almost twenty years.

Too, too long!

It's time to go back to my other home state, New Mexico.

June 5, 2021
Madison, IN

Sempiternal infernal chores external and internal string along minutes hours decades inside and I'm trying to keep up grow up grind up and wind up get the wind up and find out, finally where up is maybe going up into (not just next to) the mountains is a start.

June 4, 2021
Madison, IN

It seems to me Amazon and other advertisers make a major mistake when they assume shoppers want more more more of the same things that they just bought.

It's almost as if they assume addiction is the normal state of human existence.

The fact is, though, that they are limiting their customers too much. How many people cancel Kindle Unlimited (for instance) because the plan offers more and more books of the same genre, never mind quality? 

I bought a little collection of mini lipsticks which should set me up for life and Amazon kept offering me more more more.

Well, an apple a day drives me to peaches, pears, and watermelon, thank you, not to mention rare tuna.

Marketers sometimes forget the most addictive thing of all: variety.

Heh. Look who's talking. Moving on...

Actually I think our whole society is moving from refinement in language to refinement in touch.

Think about it.

Does that idea touch you?

June 1, 2021
Madison, IN

Those of us who are parents want our children to experience all the good things of life. Of course, when we become parents we are usually very young.

From what I am reading, the average age for childbearing is now about the age I was when I had my first - 27 - and the second oldest mother on the ward in 1975.

As you age and have the opportunity to experience awful happenings, you wonder if having children was the best way to go. I'm one of the ones who claims unintentionality as my excuse.

The next generation, though, tends to accept the reality they know (or fight it) perhaps not realizing the magnitude of the changes their parents have experienced in their own lifetimes. Whatever is, is just life.

In the movie Soylent Green old folks about to die are shown movies about the wildlife that used to be. I already feel like one of those people only watching nature on the screen.

No one ever sees so much of real life as we see from the comfort of our own homes.

I'm not sure I can honestly say I would prefer it any other way. I have been in saguaro deserts and never seen them bloom, but I have seen photos on Facebook.

Nah, I take that back. I have seen cholla and opuntia and agave datura live in New Mexico. I don't want to trade those experiences for a picture on a screen of any size.

I want it all.

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