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Rumilluminations XI
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Fri, February 01 2008 - 1:31 pm

March 17, 2008                              Valparaiso, IN

I really want to want to be very rich.  The fantasy of the good life is a good one.  I could wear beautiful, expensive clothes and get the best possible beauty consultants.  I could eat fabulous food at expensive restaurants every day (and I love good food!)  I could visit countries all over the world, and sail around on my luxury yacht, hobnobbing with other people who have the time to hang out and have fun.

The only trouble is, I'm kind of careless.  I would spill food on the good-looking clothes, and even Dior doesn't look good with grease stains on it.  I would wear the expensive diamond brooch shaped like a dove carrying a little emerald olive branch in its yellow diamond beak upside-down.  And have you ever noticed how uncomfortable stylish clothes can be?  Especially those fancy dress-up ones!

Eating out at restaurants all the time would keep me awake all night with heartburn, and if I didn't get heartburn I would probably get arteriosclerosis instead.  Or, why not both!

I would love to travel to foreign lands, and intend to do just that.  The fact that foreign water (like what I would consume in the State of Michigan!) has a tendency to make me sick could not/will not deter me!  But still, it's kind of nice not to get sick.  If I'm not rich enough to travel, I guess I'll just have to stay home and read a book.  If the rocker makes me seasick while I'm reading about a storm, I'll move to the easy chair!

And speaking of getting sick, the only yacht ride I have ever been on, sailing the choppy "seas" of Lake Michigan, saw me sitting slouched on an averagely comfortable cushioned bench going "uuuhhhhhhh."  (Newsflash - dramamine does not prevent you from feeling sick - it just keeps you from throwing up!)

I really, really want to want to be very rich.

I'm just not sure I have the stomach for it!

March 16, 2008                           Valparaiso, IN

I used to listen to showtunes like "Climb Every Mountain" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and oh, I don't know, whatever that song about finding your true love is (take your choice from thousands!) and I could emotionally climb and fly with them.

Now I can't.  Or rather, I don't want to.  I don't want my emotions jerked around and manipulated anymore by romantic music and romanticism.  The very idea of sitting and listening to that kind of stuff is nauseating.  I find myself separating myself emotionally.

But I did listen to the noise of the latest "Hairspray" with a smile on my face as I watched, although it all got rather tiring, that nth degree of energy and enthusiasm.

I think I have more of a zest for life than many my age.  I still find the world and the behavior of the people in in intensely interesting.  It's just that high-flown emotion has little meaning for me lately.  If I have found my "true love" (and I actually have found several in my life - ha, ha!) the experience was nothing like what these singers are singing about - at least not for long.

So, is my reaction just disappointment?  I don't think so.  Maybe it is a sense of emotional economy that is setting in now that I am sixty.  Or maybe it's just boredom with the stereotypes of love and success.  Maybe it is a disillusionment with people that makes me wonder if even the creators of these emotional confections believe in them.

"It Ain't Necessarily So."    

March 15, 2008                           Valparaiso, IN

Well, the middle of March has arrived.  Lamb time.  And it is like a lamb out there, too, all gray and woolly.

I had a hard time dragging myself out of bed this morning.  Not enough sun, maybe, although God knows early morning sun in Corvallis is rare also (one thing I have been meaning to warn potential residents about!  If you want a morning sunrise to go with your morning coffee, Corvallis might not be the place for you!)

Actually we did have a glorious rare day or two of Spring weather, so maybe that is why I'm pouting at the gray day.  (As if I needed an excuse to pout!  My toddler pictures look pouty.  I don't know if it is discontent or just that poochy baby look that actresses pay so much money to attain these days!)

Really, though, back home in Indiana reminds me of the melancholy song of that name.  We did cross the Wabash River, which is beautiful right now.  We also crossed the Kankakee, and the fields south of it which are for now lakes.

Yesterday, back home in flooded northern Indiana, I saw a woman watering her yard.  Go figure.

P.S.  I did have an actual thought this morning.  I read a book in my childhood about a cat war.  The cats were out battling each other to the death, and a meek little kitten who had gone to hide was the sole survivor.  That book had it a little wrong, I think.  The passionate and fanatic of all types will fertilize the earth with their blood, and the uninvolved will likely survive, even if they are out watering their lands when they don't need it!  But there won't likely be a sole survivor of these battles, unless they go completely nuclear.  There will be millions of survivors.  Literally millions, who have quite possibly never heard of suicide bombers.  Just trying to scratch out a living!

March 14, 2008                                 Valparaiso, IN

Anybody else think that it's funny that the House of Representatives is having a secret meeting about wire-tapping?  I think that is hysterical.  They get to have secret meetings about whether we get to have secret meetings via telephone (more or less!)

We definitely should try to crash their secret meetings and spy on them!  (Just joking, watch-dogs.  Ha, ha!)

I know this is probably heresy in the Internet Age, but I want a paper trail of accountability.  (Actually, a virtual paper trail is okay too, I guess - just how reliable is it?  I admit even paper trails can be faked, though.)

Isn't the whole purpose of "a record" the avoidance of a conflict in subsequent verbal stories about what actually happened?

The whole furor over what the telephone companies did in releasing information to the administration without warrants is ridiculous.  They made the wrong response to an illegal request by the government.  But hey, the tobacco companies don't pay for their sins, why should anycorporation else?

To act as if our national security (as a whole) has been under immediate threat by this most recent "war" is laughable.  To the extent we are really under threat by the "war" that we are presently engaged in it is by what it is costing us, the aggressors, to pursue it.

Bush is always saying that the terrorists are just that.  He won't dignify their activities as "war."  Then he wants to use the phrase "time of war" to justify measures against the (maybe, we're not really sure because they could just be Quakers or business competitors!) "terrorists" (not "warriors") that are only allowable during time of war.

I'm laughing, I really am laughing.  Really!  (Ha, ha hab blubber boo hoo hoo.  Sob.) 

March 13, 2008                                 Valparaiso, IN

The example I am thinking of was viewed by millions of people on TV, but not me.  It was told to me by one of the viewers.  It was about a woman whose son was killed,  and found herself so consumed with anger that she had to do something to heal herself.  For some reason she was called to start visiting inmates and, in addition to healing herself, was helping many of them.

Now, I did not see this show.  I'm sure it is very inspirational.  But how would she have spent her time if her son had not been killed?  It sounds as if she has ended up "going to prison!"

Maybe she had to do that to heal herself.  But in a way the killer killed her, too.  He killed the person she would have been if he had not killed her son, and he ended up sending her (in a backwards kind of way) to prison.

Only she can know how she might have spent her time had her personal tragedy never taken place.  (And even she may not know!)  Maybe she feels that she is spending her time far more blessedly than she would have spent it had not the crime been committed against her son.

But forgiving as she might be, her experience has indelibly changed her. If she thinks it has changed her for the better, I will accept that.  It's just too bad, in my view, that she has to spend so much of her time in jail!

And is this ultimate outcome the result of her forgiving her son's killer, or of her initial failure to forgive him?

Forgive seventy times seven maybe, but forget?  I don't know - I think our experiences are burned into our very cells! 

March 12, 2008  Corvallis, OR

I think I understand and have experienced the benefits of forgiveness.  But does a simple (or not so simple!) act of forgiveness really clean the internal psychic slate?  Don't our experiences leave indelible marks for better or worse on our perceptions of (and ways of dealing with) reality?

How can the discovery that people who you implicitly trusted lied to you fail to make you the slightest bit more skeptical of the statements of others in the future?

Does that mean you haven't forgiven the liar?

I don't think so.  That kind of learning is called learning from experience, and people who don't do that probably don't live to be sixty!

Being a little skeptical and witholding immediate judgment and/or automatic belief are seen by some as being judgmental acts in themselves.

I don't think so - more on this later, perhaps!  Including an example of forgiveness that leads me on to further speculation!

March 11, 2008 Corvallis, OR

Watched Michael Moore's "Sicko" last night. I knew it would be serious and depress me, and it kind of did, but it also made me laugh. It is about people with health insurance, so it doesn't exactly "speak to my condition" as the Quakers would say. I can relate, though. I've seen what some of my friends and family have gone through with their health insurance companies, and it hasn't been a pretty picture. That kind of stress can make you sick!

I have a health insurance story of my own. When I still thought I would be living longer in Oregon I tried to get health insurance with the help of the state. No problem, the state said, even though it would have been paying 90% of a $400-dollar-a-month policy! I was ecstatic! Until I found out that I was "uninsurable" by Blue Shield/Blue Cross because of my "pre-existing conditions." Now after seeing "Sicko" I know why. There are dozens of pre-existing conditions. Only a ten-year-old would not have any!

So I live without health insurance. My mom helps with my routine checkups, and I am saved the incredible stress of dealing with those greedy bastards, the health insurance companies.

I've decided if I get dangerously sick, I'll commit a crime (nonviolent, of course!) and go to prison where they will have to give me medical care.

Ha! With my luck, I'd probably just get probation!

March 10, 2008 Corvallis, OR

Memory is a tricky thing. I'm sure we are hard-wired to remember certain kinds of people over others. For instance, we are going to remember the unusual over the usual. (Probably a "usual" kind of observation!)

So why then do we so often have no memory of a highly unusual happening? Trauma? So far out of our frame of reference that it can find no synapse path of neurons to lead us back?

I'm sure I remember some things because I revisit them more often. But a good technique for forgetting things that you want to forget, I hear, is to try to keep remembering them over and over in as great detail as possible. Eventually, so the idea goes, your brain gets fatigued or bored or something, and can't be forced to go back any more.

Seemingly irrelevant memories pop up when we don't want them, and tests seem to be excellent at blocking the memory of facts we do want and that we "know" perfectly well.

My mind does not want to be forced. Just because a society, or teacher, or friend, or family member wants and expects me to think about or remember a certain thing doesn't mean I will. With the best intentions (mine) in the world, my mind will weasel out of stuff it just plain doesn't want to do.

And I (and my mind!) are relatively docile!

Why did I write about this? I forget, but I think it was to talk about why people forget important stuff on the witness stand. (Unconscious self-protection?) Maybe I didn't get to it today because I'm afraid I already talked about that subject and can't remember!

On the other hand, if I can't remember I certainly don't expect you to!

March 9, 2008 Corvallis, OR

The place I am staying here in Corvallis has resident mice. I mean they are residents in an old fish tank. The other day one of them was taking a spin in the mouse wheel. A little later another one would come on the wheel and take a spin.

We thought there were four mice, hopefully alive, living there. Sometimes that wheel seemed to spin a lot, sometimes not at all. I was wondering idly whether it was like kids in a playground. The merry-go-round or seesaws stand idle for hours while they are in school, then all of a sudden it is non-stop activity.

I only saw one mouse at a time on the wheel but there seemed to be an occasional slight power struggle over it, or at least a taking of turns.

Why couldn't two of them go at the same time, I wondered, and imagined two little sets of pumping rumps and two little parallel tails held aloft.

Two days later - voila! There are not four mice living in the enclosure, there are six! (At least!) And today I saw two mice on the wheel, one time single file (whee! That didn't last long!) and a couple of times side by side just the way I had imagined! Cool!

It got me going a little. There is a town in South America, I have heard, that harnesses their children's energy at play to generate some electricity for the town.

Why couldn't mice? How much power could mice generate by playing on their wheel? Could they be induced with food to "play" more than they normally would? Could they control their own source of light, or their own electrical-hit addiction? Maybe they could light up their own labs!

Maybe when they got old they could be released as food for a nearby home for predators under study! If they did, would the predators start getting pissed of and wonder why such a large percentage of their food was so tough and stringy?

Etc. etc. etc. etc......

If you can use any of this feel free! I expect in a decade or so to read about a lab of cognitive psychology or some-such in which the animals help keep the overhead down! Not to mention data about age-related food preferences in red-tailed hawks!

March 8, 2008
Corvallis OR

I had kind of a fun idea thinking about Demosthenes, the man who travelled through the countryside looking for an honest man.

If he met a Buddhist, the Buddhist would tell him he was looking in the wrong place - he was looking in the dark!

A Quaker might tell him he was looking at externals - only the light within can illuminate Truth!

Lutherans might say there is no such thing. Because of original sin, perhaps, there could be no such thing as an honest man. Maybe Catholics have that original sin belief, too. I forget.

I wonder what some people of other faiths might tell him? Got any good ideas?

March 7, 2008 Corvallis, OR

About ten years ago I was irritated with a coworker and wished she were not giving me trouble. I said to another co-worker, "I wish her all good. I hope she meets a wonderful man and leaves town. I just want her gone!"

Well. I'm glad I wished her good things. Because they didn't happen to her (well some of them did - good for her!) They happened to me. I met a wonderful man and left town. I was just - gone! And after that happened I realized I wanted to be gone from my job much more than I wanted her gone from hers!

The Scots believe that ill-wishing redounds upon the ill-wisher. For that reason, and just plain because it isn't nice, I try very hard not to wish ill upon people. So wish them really, really well! In my experience, it works way better for your own good luck than wishing for good things directly for yourself!

March 6, 2008 Corvallis, OR

Many people are resistant to trying anything not approved by what we used to call "the establishment." Anything "unscientific" is not to be trusted or tried. Another attitude to take is one taken by my former boss at Flowerland, George Chadwick.

He is pretty scientifically oriented. He studied fish and wildlife in school. He and Ruth have run a successful nursery business in Corvallis for decades.

One year we had trouble with teeny little ants running along the rods from which we hung the fuchsias and infesting the plants. I told him about using lemon juice to keep ants away. "All you would need to do," I suggested. "Is use a mixture of lemon juice and water and periodically put it on the points where the ants climb onto the rods."

George thought a little while. He said, "I've had people suggest some really odd things to me over the years. I would think to myself, 'That is the goofiest thing I've ever heard.'"

He passed a hand over his early-morning stubble and gazed far stage right, ala Jack Benny. "But I'd go ahead and try it, and what do you know, the dang thing usually worked!"

March 5, 2008
Corvallis, OR

A young acquaintance of mine that I knew years ago in Corvallis said to me, "I am losing myself." She didn't follow up with any more comment about her particular situation, and I didn't want to pry. I remembered an I Ching hexagon, "Splitting Apart", in which the moving lines are all bad until you get to the top one, at which point, it seems to me, you are able to move, to change, in such a way that you can become whole again. (If I am misinterpreting this, I Ching experts, let me know!)

I told her, "It might not be such a bad thing! It all depends on where you want to end up!" I felt good about the answer. Often "myself" is a very limiting thing to be. Sometimes if you can lose "myself" you can gain a lot bigger one!

There are times when I wonder if my answer was too flippant. There are certain parts of ourselves that are so basic to our feelings of identity and security that we cannot lose them without danger to our personality and mental health.

There are plenty of fearmongers out there, however, who would always have you stay "home." They try to make you believe that therein lies survival. Well, maybe so.

But if you are undergoing conflict so severe that you are in danger of losing yourself, perhaps your old "myself" is just too small. Maybe survival lies in a willingness to change. Imagine a snake trying not to split its old skin!

March 4, 2008 Corvallis, OR

A few weeks ago, Leno mentioned a survey in which a vast majority of people said they would rather sit by a crying baby on an airplane than sit next to a chatty Kathy.

Really. I would rather sit next to a chatty Kathy than an crying infant any day, and I wonder about the sense of responsibility of anyone who wouldn't.

The way I look at it, a chatty Kathy has a need to converse. You can converse with her for a while, then considering that you have needs of your own, pick up your book or magazine and start reading. Or if you need sleep, you can assume she is an adult and say so directly. Where is the problem? (Just dozing off would work if she is a stranger, maybe not if she is your sister!)

But somebody else's crying infant - what are you able to do about that? Probably nothing, unless the child has a medical condition and you are a doctor!

That's why I wonder about the sense of responsibility of anyone who would rather hear an unhappy human vociferously expressing her unhappiness who he can't help than a probably also-unhappy human who he could. If he doesn't want to talk, he can be honest with an adult and say so. That would also be responsible behavior, wouldn't it?

Anyway, I was on planes a lot yesterday, and I tried not to be a chatty Kathy! I read half a book and slept alot, but I don't know...I still managed to talk, too!

March 2, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

If the fashion industry decided to be helpful, they could put waistbands back at waists. How are we supposed to notice we are gaining weight if we don't have that unmeasured measuring tape grunting and straining?

Also, how are we supposed to know when we are getting uncomfortably large in the rear, when we are always uncomfortable in the rear? I wonder if the designers are getting a conscious laugh about the fact that they are constantly goosing us with their thongs and other fashionable "fits"? I can't go to sleep at night without pulling my pj's halfway down to my ankles!

Is this stuff designed for men? In the old days, women were put in high heels so they couldn't run away (well, still!) Now a more subtle message to women is, "You're uncomfortable! Can't wait to get out of that, huh?"

Give us a break, let us have some nonvisual clues that we are gaining weight!

March 1, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Had an awful thought this morning: What if hell (as conceived by the church fathers) is the internal? What if what if the elegant universe or God's creation is what is external, and they considered what is internal to be the abyss?

Out and up is heaven, down and in is, well, hell.

I remember seeing a photo of a statue of a young woman offering a piece of fruit. The same statue from the back was a writhing mess of snakes and vermin!

Supposed to portray the sin behind Eve's temptation of Adam, I suppose. But what if the back of the statue is meant to portray the evil within? (Which, of course, it is!)

Reminds me of the concept of original sin.

The Queendom of Introspection is not all bad, just as God's creation (sorry) is not all good! Both are the source of much good and much otherwise.

(Yeah, I think that was an offal idea!)

February 29, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

This morning I was lying in bed, kind of trying not to try not to get up. One arm went out from under the covers and hung down. Slowly more and more of me was hanging out from under the covers - it was too warm under there (go figure - it was probably in the twenties outside!)

Suddenly I remembered I used to get up like that: slowly putting more and more of me over the side until I was in danger of literally falling off. Then I would get up. Anybody else ever do that, or am I as weird as everyone has always been telling me I am?

It reminded me of what I used to do at the (then) Dunes State Park at the southern tip of Lake Michigan. I would lay at the water's edge and let it just move me around. Now I realize that the tides, relatively small in the lake, would have eventually done something with my body. Maybe I was doing it in the spirit of scientific investigation, but the process was too slow. I'd always get up and build sand castles or look for shells before too long.

Today is the last day of February. These last few days I have been realizing that I have been using the same tactic with getting through February, just letting it nudge me along and finally, here we are.

I must admit, though, that this has been an interesting month, thanks to the initiative and personal events of others! Thank you all for the tides you have stirred in my life this month!

But oh, am I so glad that tomorrow March is here!

February 28, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

This morning I was lying in bed, thinking about "happy." I don't remember what I was thinking about "happy." What drove everything else out of my mind was that I was mentally typing the word. Puts your little fingers into play.

Well, it made me wonder a little. I only sit at the computer typing for an hour or so a day. Less, often. But there I lay, mentally typing the word instead of feeling the meaning of it. Or even a context for the meaning of it.

I'll leave the extrapolation of that thought to other realms up to you.

February 26, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

I don't understand the furor over gay vs. homosexual "marriage." Do the Christians want to control the definition of "marriage?" Well, let them! I presume the word has been in existence way longer than the government of the United States of America!

If we can't take the word "marriage" out of religion, how about if we take the word "marriage" out of government? Everybody who wants - any two "of age" people - could have an exclusive "civil partnership" or "civil union."

Then let the people who are being united slug it out with the religious institution of their choice whether or not they are allowed to call themselves "married!"

That way, the quarrels will, well, SEPARATE! How original!

I don't understand the problem. Don't we all believe in the separation of church and state? If a word that has a long, time-honored traditional meaning for a religion is polluting our right to equality under the law, well, get rid of the word in a legal context!

Don't tell me the answer is too simplistic! It isn't! Under my solution, brother and sister could have a civil union! It wouldn't have anything to do with sex at all! (Oh, and don't start in on me about incest! You know what I mean! Two people who have no sexual desire for each other could have a civil union! It really isn't anybody else's business, after all, what the exact nature of the relationship is! After all, everybody knows that married people probably have less sex than anybody! (Ha, ha!))

Otherwise, we are just trying to legislate morality. And I thought we had given up on that long ago!

(Oh, I am so naive!)

February 25, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Celebrate with me! I started these Rumilluminations one year ago today, so I decided to celebrate it! Another reason to party so I can get through the month!

(Of course you realize by "party" I probably mean "talk about it!" Realizing in fantasy!)

To continue yesterday's theme (kind of sequeing into the New Year of Rumilluminations) we no longer use old hackneyed expressions to mean the same thing, anymore! (Could that be why many good editors don't want their writers not to use them? It's not just because they are old and hackneyed? Even the word "hackney" is hackneyed! Or did the object become hackneyed and that is why we use the word for over-used and out-of-it? That would be funny. Its very survival as a word depends on its use as something no longer surviving except in museums!)

Don't know what a hackney is? Look it up! Ha ha, if your dictionary is new enough it might not even be in there!

Anyway, the wrongly-used expression I read in the newspaper today was "Dig in your heels." That does not mean "put your nose to the grindstone" (which doesn't mean scratch your nose - well never mind!) the way it was used in the horoscope. (Well, what did you expect? say the snobs!) "Dig in your heels" means "balk!"

Jeesh. If you can't even use old trite hackneyed expressions and metaphors correctly, try being creative and make up new ones! You can't mess those up - they're yours!

February 24, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

I think I begin to understand those who have a kind of exclusionary view of language. They want to understand and be understood.

I'm not really one of those people who have a static view of language anymore. But I sure do want to understand and be understood. And not being a bully or tyrant (well, not often! Queendom does have its responsibilities! Just joking, one responsibility of power has got to be not to be a bully or tyrant) I do feel words are essential to understanding.

Except how good are they, really? People sometimes honestly believe that what they are saying is true, even if dictionary definitions of the words they are using would make them liars.

People pick up the words and accents spoken around them. If they then are incomprehensible to me, what then? I have a monopoly on what English is?

I know one thing. If the English I hear on TV is supposed to be "standard" English now, I'm falling behind. I just don't understand a good deal of what I hear. Especially if it is spoken by athletes!

Some friends of mine (born in Germany but here for fifty years) complained about having trouble understanding me. I mentioned not being able to understand people being interviewed on TV.

They said, "That's how we feel about you!"

February 23, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Some people maintain that Obama and Clinton have different platforms. The other day, however, I read that Clinton is supporting universal health care coverage, while Obama's plan only covers children.

The same old ageism at work! I don't have any health insurance, don't have a job (I'm sure partly because employers don't want to pay for it for someone my age) and will not qualify for medicare (or -aid - I always forget which is which!)

I feel that the Clinton Presidency was a good one. What is so bad about that? Some people don't seem to want a repeat of the Clintons. Would that they could get us out of debt - again!

I'm still in support of Hillary Clinton, feeling that between a woman and a man of any race, the woman will represent my interests better.

Not that it matters anyway. By the time the Indiana primary election rolls around in May, the candidacy might be a done deal. Why defect from Hillary Clinton, women of the USA? Could it be that you just want to be on the side that's winning? Me, I'm sexist and racist when it comes to the Presidency. Over 200 years of white guys is long enough. It's somebody else's turn!

February 22, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

As I navigate around Valparaiso, I often get the feeling that a lot of people here are depressed. When I went to an historical exhibit here last summer, I learned that Indiana lost 20,000 young men in the Civil War.

Could it be that Indiana has kind of a cultural state of depression that has lingered for 150 years? I know when I lived in California as a girl, it seemed much more open, free and happy. When I came back here, it was, quite frankly, difficult. That was in the early fifties, not even 100 years after the Civil War ended.

When you consider how long grievances, wars, and injustices seem to be remembered in other, older, cultures, maybe the idea that Indiana is still suffering from the aftereffects of the Civil War is not so farfetched.

We still see it in the South, and it is easy to understand it. But Indiana was on the "winning" side, so maybe its citizens don't think in those terms.

But tragedy is tragedy, and loss is loss. Maybe native residents of Indiana have inherited a habit of sadness.

February 21, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

I recently read a mystery by Gyles Brandreth about Oscar Wilde that quotes William Wordsworth at the top of the page that says Chapter One:

The good die first,

And they whose hearts are dry as summer dust

Burn to the socket.


A powerful image! So, confusing Wordsworth with Longfellow and remembering that Longfellow's wife died trying to do something sentimental with family photos (something about wax and the fireplace?) I got curious about the timing of the verse. Maybe it was written around the time of death of a beloved wife.

Well, maybe - but I wouldn't know! I tried to find the poem the quote came from but it is evidently from a very long poem by Wordsworth. I'll have to pursue it another time.

I thought, could this be where the idea that "the good die young" came from? Could it have originally been not "young" but "first?" Where did the idea come from? I looked it up (quickly - no hours of research, I admit!) and ran across Billy Joel's song, "Only the good die young."

So, if the idea came from Wordsworth's poem, the meaning has gone from "first" to "young" and gotten more exclusive! Only the good die young!

A dangerous idea, methinks! And not just for us older folks!

Some of the idea is hinted at by Herodotus in 445 B.C. when he relates a story about two youths who die in their sleep when their mother, grateful for a difficult act of kindness on their parts, asks the Goddess Hera to give them the greatest gifts that gods can bestow upon humans. (Source Wikkipedia, maybe?)

I also got hints of another direction to take this, something about the original statement being, "Only the good die young ... at heart." (Mr_Sinister at , can you elucidate further? Or you, Leonard Wilson of Bad Penny Productions?)

I like that possible positive source/meaning of the quote. Definitely.

Does anyone know more about the origins of this idea? I may take another stab at it via the internet but, I don't know, I get kind of intimidated by the 44,000 or whatever entries!

But the Wordsworth image sure is powerful. I'm glad I read that. But -


February 20, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Another little note on yesterday's subject. I read most of my news online from Yahoo because, I guess, that is what I automatically get with my online service. One thing really cool about reading news in this way is that if you need background or further information (like what is the ENUF?) there are links right from the article to what you need to know. So, really, newspapers, while a nice thing to have while you are drinking a cup of coffee, cannot compete with the internet for coping with esoteric acronyms!

Oh, well, as long as I am on the subject of news, I am finding myself increasingly uncomfortable about the way the Presidential race is shaping up. Fearful, almost.

Maybe I'd better read some books written by candidates, because I sure cannot get a grip on who I am dealing with here. But lately I have read a couple points of interest: one is that Hillary Clinton has the best record for voting of the three top candidates. McCain, according to my source ("The Week" - hope they are reporting correctly!) has missed 57 percent of the Senate's votes in the last year. Obama has missed 40 percent.

Hillary Clinton has missed substantially fewer votes. She missed 27 percent.

Many people won't care. For some reason, people who are steady and do their jobs are often not appreciated. I don't know what the average attendance and/or participation at Senate voting is. The people who get by on schmoozing and personality-politicking probably don't care. But I do. I tend to like and trust people who do their jobs.

February 19, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Well, today I settled one thing once and for all. I definitely will not start a Dictionary of Acronyms!

I was telling one of my daughters about how hard it was to read articles that didn't explain the acronyms they used. I said, "I wonder if there is such a thing as a dictionary of acronyms! We need something like that!"

Her response: "Just look it up on the internet."

"Well, what about those of us who aren't on the Web?" I asked her. She had no reply to that, so I have been kicking around the idea for a year or two (without even bothering to find out if such a thing is available in a book store, of course!)

No more.

Just for kicks I searched a few random sets of letters on the web and got responses for all of them! Not all of them were acronyms, of course. Got part of some computer code. Got a person's personal blog - she lives in Malaysia. One of them was a Gospel radio station licensed to Brewton, Alabama. Got some real acronyms, one of which also caused me to stumble upon which basically completed my research.

This website will throw up solutions to your acronym puzzles, both verified and (if requested) unverified. It will effectively weed out all the non-acronymic solutions to the question, "What the hell is WXYZ?" Except watch out - it didn't list the radio station! (Is that because radio station call codes are not technically acronyms?)

They list over 4 million acronyms, so EMP, the QoI, will not list any!

P.S. Of the five or so random series of letters I ran, the hands-down winner for most meanings was IHRS, with five verified meanings and nine additional unverified ones. So if you don't want confusion, find another acronym for your organization! (Just a suggestion! Actually, really just a joke. Three-letter ones probably have a lot more!)

February 18, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Today at the supermarket I noticed yet again that I don't see anyone besides me using cloth bags (including my own mother!). I am not looking out for what kind of bags people use, but I do think I would notice cloth bags if someone was using them.

The cloth canvas bags I use are STURDY. I have never had one rip or tear on me, and I have used them for laundry and/or food for years - twenty years! If mixing the uses offends you, get different ones for different chores! Color-coded! Like cutting boards in restaurants!

Maybe people don't like the somewhat dirty off-white look of my bags. Well, now you can get them in green or black or other more dirt-camoflaging colors!

Have an extra one or two stashed in your car (or on your bike handles!) in case you forget to bring the ones you usually use. It occurred to me this morning that we really don't know how much tree it really takes to make, say, 104 brown paper shopping bags. (That is more or less the number my incorrigable mother uses every year.) Maybe we would be motivated if we knew what the impact really, literally, is.

So I made a quick stab at the internet to find out, and didn't. I did find a great article in by Sam Martin about our paper use, and it is way worse than I thought. Very high! Paper is in home insulation and tennis shoes! It is everywhere! (And I can't get my mom to stop getting the daily paper - mostly for the crosswords. The crosswords!) Paper production is also, he reports, very hard on the environment.

I also found out that some paper bags are made from genetically-engineered poplars. Others, however, come from old-growth forests (home to birds and other wildlife as well as trees!) and rain forests! Rain forests! Both of these environments provide homes to much more fauna than a tree farm does. Now I am going to try to be better about taking along bags for all my non-grocery shopping, too!

February 17, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Statistics are okay. I mean, they have their function. Or maybe I should say their functions. Plural. After all, it is a well-known truism that the truth, when it comes to statistics, is in the hands of the manipulator.

But statistics are all about probability. They talk about what is, that is, in general. More or less. Most of the time.

So don't tell me that it is all downhill from thirty, as does "The Last Word" in that mixed blessing, "The Week" quoting David Shields from his brand new (book-to-be?) The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll be Dead.

All these dire predictions about what is going to happen to YOU depend upon YOU. Not the statistics. Sure, everyone ages. But I am sixty and I don't recognize myself in these horrible guarantees. (Don't snicker and say everyone else does!)

Well, no. My son gave me a memory test over the phone at age 58 or so and I tested in the same range as his fellow graduate students. I walk a bunch and feel great most of the time. I don't wake up feeling sad every morning, Emerson notwithstanding. (Honestly, he was probably just joking!)

I am sick of age-bashing! Sure, it is all downhill at thirty for most Americans, with their crappy diets and lazy attitudes towards physical movement!

But you don't have to be one of those affluent losers! When you are sixty you could be like me! Not perfect, but relatively healthy. Not ecstatic, but pretty happy most of the time! Er, at least relatively cheerful! Not immortal, but not the pathetic mess described by David Shield (and Emerson, evidently!)

Youngsters, I do not expect my soon-to-be-eighty-nine-year-old mother to move out of the way for me any more than I intend to "commit hari-kari" now that I'm sixty. I'm having a lot more richness and fun in my life than many malcontent twenty-year-olds who haven't even figured out what they want to do with their time! (No blame - I hadn't either!)

The speed at which "our bodies betray us" has a good deal to do with how much we have betrayed our bodies! (Why don't you get an internal dialog going? Maybe your body will help you more!)

The fact that we are going to die is not the thing about life! It is only the last thing! And only in life as we know it! (Hmmm, maybe I'll come back as an ant. I can glory in my dim perception that maybe there is more going on in the world than the Grim Stomper! No, I've probably earned only the right to be a grasshopper! I'll fly up in your face, and die when it gets cold!)

So, ha! I have had the last word! (Hope it isn't my last word! Now that I'm sixty you never know! Ha ha!)

February 16, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Well, enough self-indulgence. February is what it is, and I'd rather associate my least favorite month with "you" than "me," anyway. Ha-ha!

I notice, moving around, that I am slower than when I was younger. Old people are known for moving slowly, I know.

But is that a result of aging, or is aging the result of moving slower?

Partly I move slowly around my mother out of consideration for her. I always try to slow down around older people, not only so I won't knock them over with my wake of moving air! I also don't want to make them feel bad.

Now I'm afraid I'm getting into a habit of moving slowly.

Why do we do it? I think we move slowly because we are less likely to have an accident, we feel. We have had enough accidents, some of them with dire consequences, that we become a little more careful.

But what are the negative consequences of moving slowly? For one thing, you get the contumely of young people: the rolling eyes, the tapping foot, the honking horns and the sideswiping are just some of the symptoms. The lack of respect on the part of many (not all!) young folks is palpable.

This in itself is physically dangerous to older people, not to mention dangerous to their self-esteem!

But when we move more slowly, our blood moves more sluggishly through our bodies! We don't get as much oxygen and nutrients around our bodies as fast! And the vicious cycle kicks in - the slower we move, the less quickly we are able to move.

On the other hand, maybe the older folks are slower because the faster ones all had accidents and are no longer with us!

Choose your pace!

Febmeary 15, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Terrorism, schmerrorism. Shootings, tootings. These things, while awful, awful, awful, are very rare on our soil. Not as rare as some other places, admittedly.

But as I have mentioned before there are sins of commission and sins of omission.

The money that we are giving towards the war in Iraq, is, I believe, a sin of commission - killing.

The money that we are not giving towards universal health care is causing how many deaths?

It turns out that by omitting to turn out enough doctors (and by the doctors we do turn out choosing to live in urban centers) we are dying for lack of timely medical care, even when we do have insurance! I would like to see the statistics about this, but I'm sure no one has them.

On any given moment, on any given day, we do have choices about how we are going to use our time and our energy. Even if you have a job that you think is a profound waste of your talents and time, it is supporting you. That is a worthwhile thing, is it not, while you start thinking about how to spend your time better and still survive?

The legislature has these choices also. They can turn their time and our money (which represents about three months of our time a year (on average!)) to negative actions of destruction of property and life, or they can take that same time and money and do some real THINKING and CREATIVE IMAGINING about ways to use that money in ways that are less likely to create terrorists and angry shooters.

I know that in my own life I am much less angry if I am treated well and fairly. Why would I want to shoot anyone, if I am not angry and I have a full and interesting life?

The causes of the kind of anger that must be within terrorists and school shooters are often generated far from the acts themselves.

Look to yourselves for why anyone in the United States of America should be this angry.

I've had three babies. I was fully conscious at every one of their births. And I didn't see anger in any of them for a long, long time.

Febmeary Yourteen, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Happy Valenteen's Day! Hope you have a good one, you teen-ager, you!

This morning I woke up from a bad dream in which a pedophile I was living with (in the dream!) wanted to move in a young boy to live with us. I was saying that that would be an impossible-to-resist temptation for him but he wasn't listening. I woke up from the anxiety. And this after I have pretty much stopped watching Law and Order SVU!

Lying awake in bed I heard angry voices. They came close and got louder. Looking out the window, I was witness to a not-so-lover's quarrel. Two people were walking six feet apart down the street at 5:15, arguing loudly. "You're just an interfering bitch!" was followed by "You said...."

That's all I heard. Well, I have had more than my share of offensive noisy confrontations! And I admit, it could have been a brother-sister duo.

But it just reinforces my feelings about Valentine's Day. If these folks hadn't had the stress of it all, would they have even been up at that hour, fighting?

Valentine's Day is hard on florists. Why not spread around the wealth/work by sending your loved ones flowers during a different week of the year?

Valentine's Day is hard on restauranteurs. Instead of a variety of table sizes, some with lots of people (easier to seat, easier to serve) they have almost all twosomes. (My mom wants to go out to eat for Valentine's Day, and there are only two of us. So we're going for lunch! Not quite so hard-pressed an hour!)

And having said all that, I have encouraged the men in my life to be good to their sweeties!

But me, this year I am giving internal Valentines! Like prayers. "Happy Valentine's Day and I love you to you and you and of course you with love and kisses from me!"

Febmeary 13, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Countdown to Valentine's Day! Well, here's a kind of embarrassing "Was that the same man?" story. I had an inappropriate fling with a man once (older than I) whom I now call the "crazy poet."

He had taken too many drugs in the sixties, and it is my bet that he had mental problems before. (I'm not throwing stones, here so have I!) Needless to say, the relationship could not endure, if only because I did not want to spend all my time helping him feed his addictions. (Smoking and alcohol, at that time.)

Years later, I remembered running into a man near the UNM campus in the late sixties who tried to start up a conversation with me. My "maybe not" radar kicked in and I smiled as I walked by, but I wouldn't stop and talk. He seemed to have a lot of the same aura and the same style.

Was that the same man?

I guess the point of these comparisons or possible memories is partly: what kind of protective mechanisms did I have in my early years that failed to kick in when I was older? Did I become more foolish and/or braver and more open?

Or did these guys just become slicker?

Have any of you had similar experiences?

Febmeary 12, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Well, I promised last week, with Valentine's Day coming, to tell more "Was that the same man?" stories. I have hesitated because, to tell the truth, they probably aren't as good.

But here's another one. Years ago in New Mexico I dated a man who was into bicycling. When I saw him in a newspaper article photograph taken ten years before I met him (at least!) a bell started jingling in my head (not on my braids!)

I was at a local bike store and trying to find the right size of bike for me. (Since I rode boys' bikes (stronger frame!) this was very important to me.) Someone who worked at the store was going to measure my inseam when a man very much like the man I saw fifteen years later in the photograph stepped forward and, taking the measuring tape out of the employees' hand, volunteered to do it.

I definitely had a feeling of kind of mocking prurient interest, but nothing untoward happened besides the volunteerism itself.

Now I wonder, "Was that the same man?"

Febmeary 11, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

I am so much enjoying reading Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe! It makes me wonder why we have such a split between religious fundamentalists and science. (I guess I should say Christian fundamentalists, because I really don't know that much about any other religion.)

Fundamentalists believe that God created the whole Universe. So why are they fighting with scientists, who dedicate their lives to learning more about the universe we live in? People say, "I don't believe in science" or "I'm not interested in science." Isn't that like saying you are not interested in God's creation?

The whole time fundamentalists are down-playing and nay-saying science, they are, perhaps, sitting in a restaurant with electric lights, big ovens, and piped-in music. Or perhaps they are driving their automobiles around an interstate clover-leaf. Maybe they are speaking over the sound of the TV set while they make their anti-science stance. For sure they are ready to take advantage of Western medicine and medical technology!

They say they believe in Jesus. Yet the more bigoted they are against other human beings, the more they turn down the wonderful gadgets that the Christian religion has to offer, like injunctions against lying, inappropriate lust, and greed, and positive admonitions like "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

If the problem is in loving yourself, then work on that! Don't take your lack of love out on the rest of us! If the problem is in defining exactly who your "neighbor" is, well how about expanding that definition to include everybody, just as science has expanded your world (whether you admit it or not)?

If you force me to make a choice between a religion that seems to have constricted your humanity, and science, which has given us the opportunity to almost infinitely expand it, I will choose science!

But thank goodness, due to separation of church and state, nobody can force me to make such a silly choice!

Febmeary 10, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

(My new, improved spelling of the month accomplished without a single false stroke! And today, the first bright sunny one this month, it is a windy 2 degrees F right now.)

Today I'm going through another little hissy-fit of spiritual crisis about laughter.

Supposedly spiritually more advanced people believe in reverence, and appreciation (which I would think would include at least temporary acceptance of the natural order!)

But the source of laughter, according to comics and psychologists, is pain or at the very least cause for complaint (which implies a certain degree of discontent.)

So if I try to think positively about something that from my point of view sucks (for universality I'll give an example like having to undergo major surgery) does that mean I lose the ability to laugh at it? (Hmmm, maybe that wasn't a very good example. Not many people can laugh (except maybe weakly!) about having to undergo major surgery!)

But the question remains. How can I laugh and make jokes about February if I have to appreciate it? And if I fully appreciate everything why would I be moved to laugh?

But laughing is good for you! It helps you avoid having to undergo nasty stuff like major surgery! Laughing is fun!

I am stricken with a horrible thought: Did Lucifer get kicked out of Heaven (that word is a lot like "haven", isn't it?) - for laughing?

I am afraid to head out from here, but I will bravely push onward. Did Lucifer get kicked out of heaven because he dared to laugh at God? Or make fun of something that was part of His creation? (Like penguins or puffballs or p - well, never mind!) Is that why we shun him and call him evil?

If someone is rude to me or laughs at me I might call him rude. But evil? No. I guess only God, Presidents and religious fundamentalists have the right to call anyone who laughs at them or has different values (that really don't step on the personal tootsies of anyone at all) evil (or attribute a natural disaster like a tornado to punishment for being evil. Honestly, are you people for real? Are you living in the dark ages? Aren't you afraid that someone will accuse you of being a witch or a warlock?)

I have always wondered about Satan's name, Lucifer. It seems to me to come from the Latin, "lux, lucis" meaning "light".

I would think light is a good thing. It is always used that way in Christian symbolism. How could it be a bad thing to shed more light? (Maybe that is what God was doing when he kicked Lucifer out of heaven, shedding light (ha ha!))

February 9, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Maybe February is such a hateful month because the light is coming back and that is a good thing and makes you happy, but then you look around see how crappy everything looks outside. (Oh come on, you can be philosophical about it, but just look!)

January snow and February thaw brings February slush!

Maybe February is such a hateful month because it gets light earlier and the bugs start coming out of the house plants. (Why do they always head for me? When I realize they are probably trying to head for a nice warm bed and body, then I begin to feel targeted!)

Oh, and with all that early morning light you begin to see all that winter mess better. The mess that, when the out-of-doors finally begins to look better than the in-in-of-doors, makes you spring houseclean. (See how I subtly brought in the fact that I am not completely alone in this quandry? That Spring Housecleaning is a cultural tradition here in the U.S.?)

And finally - and worst - for us introspective types, February is the month where the cold, bitter truth of habit so often defeats the warm fuzzy resolutions of the New Year!

Or maybe it is just that February, in spite of its hypocritical spelling, is all about "you". Or turns "you" into "brew" which promotes alcoholism! Or witchery!

Maybe I would like a month called Febmeary much better! Why, it is even easier to type! Febmeary Febmeary! I mean, WAY easier to type! Your first finger just drops down to that "m"!

Yeah, February is just too damn hard! And the WORST thing about February is all those Pollyannas who preach to you about your attitude and stuff like that.

Oh, shut up!

Or, never mind, keep on preaching! I'm moving south!

February 8, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Well, I still have beautiful flowers in my space, but February's bite is back! The sun came out for a couple of seconds today, but I have seen so little of it for a week now that I'm beginning to fear it is breaking up with the world for Valentine's Day.

No, to be honest, the toilet flooded today. Can't blame that on February! (Well, I can, but without any evidence!)

Why does February bug me so much? Well, it doesn't apply to me now, but for years I paid more rent per day in February because it is always the shortest month (which often also meant a smaller paycheck!)

Also, by February I have had it with winter weather and darkness. In my last years in Santa Fe, February wasn't so bad. Nor was it all that bad, as I recall, in Corvallis. But now I am back in northern Indiana, and I tell you, February is bad!

Last but not least, February is a pain in the ass to spell, and now that I know how to spell it (have for fifty years or so!) my typing fingers still haven't learned.

Well, big bad February - one week down, three to go!

February 7, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

The weather ouside continues gloomy, but I have had my insides (house and me!) brightened up by flowers! Thank you very much!

Some people don't like cut flowers. They call them "dead." By that standard maybe we people are already dead as soon as the umbilical cord is cut! After all, we are being artificially maintained by daily injections (non-medically speaking) of food and water for the rest of our lives! Not to mention constantly gasping for air, like fish out of water!

Most flowers can last in water with a little food for a week or so. Proportional to the flower's normal life, that probably isn't so bad! An iris cut and kept cool may have a bloom that lasts longer than one left outdoors on the plant in ninety-degree heat! So who is to say that it is dead until it looks dead? Maybe it is just in a floral coma!

True, it will never create seed. But lots of humans don't, either. Having offspring is very uncomfortable! I can't feel sorry for humans or flowers that don't. Talk about "being oppressed by what should not oppress you!" (That is the I Ching talking - a new kind of spirit! Ha ha!)

In truth, I don't blame people who don't have children from lamenting their lack. I love my children, and they help keep me in touch with the times. ("Not very well," I'm sure they are thinking as they shake their heads!)

But people without children should count their blessings! Children are a lot of hard work! Society loves to keep that fact hidden. It is our biggest national secret! In fact, "oppression" may describe the life of a hard-working mom pretty well! Nieces and nephews and the kids in the classroom and neighbors' kids can be cute and smart and funny, too, and you don't have to keep them clean and civilize them! (Well, we all could use a little help civilizing them!)

Besides, who wants a bunch of "dead things" running around messing up the house and getting into mischief? At least flowers grace the space you choose to place them! And they never talk back!

February 6, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

I guess psychologists might say I was projecting my own emotions onto the "loving" swallowtail I saw (see Jan.5) so many years before. Surely the cuckoo I saw had reasons to be interested in me that had nothing to do with me personally! But such an open, "What have we here?" curiosity animated him that it was an unforgettable encounter.

After writing yesterday, I was thinking about his look and it occurred to me that the closest thing I have experienced to it was another (even more unforgettable!) encounter with one of my daughters, as she was being born.

She was born in a dimly lit room at home, with only three other people (besides her!) present. She very calmly looked around (as much as she could, in her position!) Her unspoken question, "Well what have we here?" is still being answered!

February 5, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

We humans have a habit of thinking that we have a monopoly on emotion. Only we have the higher powers of intellect and integration and discrimination to truly experience emotion.

(Dog lovers may not agree, but the fact that they are so often exclusively obsessed with dogs makes it seem as if they feel that dogs are the only exception to the rule!)

But maybe we humans used to learn our purest forms of emotion from nature. I have already told you about seeing a swallowtail butterfly love a lily.

One of my most memorable bird sightings happened probably thirty-five years ago.

I was at the edge of the swamp near Wilson's Shelter in what is now the dunes national park at the southern tip of Lake Michigan. That morning I saw a green heron, quite an exciting sight to me!

But the really memorable sighting, the one that keeps coming back to me, was a bird that cautiously came around the the side of a tree trunk and just looked at me.

It was a yellow-billed cuckoo.

This morning I was lying in bed wondering what about that bird has made me remember it for so long. Then I realized. That bird was so present in the moment - with me! It wasn't scrabbling for food or trying to be invisible by turning into a tree stump (like, possibly the heron) or scurrying out of sight. It was simply right there, and it was simply looking - at me!

It may have been the most powerful experience of interest that I have ever had in my life!

Imagine that.

Well, there's a February thought for you.

February 4, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Maybe one reason February can be so difficult is that it shows up the failure of January resolutions. One month is way too long to keep up a resolution less than one month old!

After all, where do resolutions come from anyway? A realization and acknowledgment of excess and addiction! On January 1, somebody woke up after the New Year's Eve party of the night before and vowed, "I will never get so drunk again.... ya-da-ya-da...."

A good life means never having to make New Year's resolutions!

Well, all of us know we have resolutions we could/should be making, so why don't we all just give up the pretense and admit we have addictions?

We all have addictions! Whether it is pot or tea or chocolate or sex or watching tv or counseling people who still have addictions (one of the least fun, I would think!) or reading mysteries, or reading anything or eating or not eating anything... oh, yeah and tidiness and organization... and going to church....

We all have addictions! Maybe a good resolution would be to trade in your terribly (or moderately) self-destructive addiction for one that is less self-destructive.

But please, don't trade it in for an addiction to being judgmental! I think Jung was right on when he said that judgment and perception are like an off/on toggle switch (my simile). The more you are judging, the less you are perceiving.

This is not wise, because your perceptions are what allow you to have good judgment, which is a great survival skill! (Now doesn't that seem paradoxical? When do you turn off perception to make a necessary judgement? Don't judge my toggle spelling! It's a US/UK kind of thing!)

I am judging judgment as being one of the worst addictions! One of the WORST! Because it drives other people to drink and gamble and think and walk excessively and shovel snow at night so ha ha ha we can sit at a computer and rant before the rest of you even get up and...the light is coming back! Yay! Ha ha ha ha ha! I don't have to shovel... nyah nyah nyah!

So far this year I am surviving February pretty well!

Oh. The driveway. I still have to shovel that! Dang!

Blankety-blank blank February...(blank)....

February 3, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

String theory gives a whole new meaning to the idea of hidden dimensions. Unfortunately strings are "hidden" perhaps because they are too small to be seen! Not to mention, how do we "see" objects that aren't three-dimensional?

Hard to believe they are still the basic stuff of the universe.

Makes you wonder if the mystics and gurus and the Beatles aren't onto something. If the universe is made up of vibrating "strings" maybe meditation does transfer some energy around "within us and without us!"

Maybe if enough of us imagine a better world, and tune ourselves in to it, maybe (pop!) it comes into being!

Meanwhile, I have a great idea for a little Valentine murder story....

February 2, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Sorry about all the inconsistent font in yesterday's rumillumination!

Since my outlook tends to be a little bleak in February, I am tempted to contemplate misogynic vocabulary. Rate these words in increasingly pejorative order for me please (I'll try it - trying to put myself inside a man's head) and see if you agree):

cow - moo

bitch (this is the least pejorative to me because if someone calls me this it means I am standing up for myself!)

witch - an evil bitch, I guess. Goes too far in standing up for herself.

old bag - so dismissive as to be quite possibly the worst!

slut - sleeping around, in our Puritanical society (not to mention many other religions, is REALLY BAD - so what if the men do it, that's different!)

whore - sleeping around for money - worse, because venal? Or better, because possibly driven to it by circumstances or because it is at least practical - motivated by something other than that dirty nasty lust stuff! Well, it doesn't matter - men seem to use it interchangeably with slut anyway.

c-word - (I guess it must be the worst because it is still considered unprintable!) - no existence, function, or value outside sexual organs.

housewife - this was a joke, but also halfway serious by the friend who suggested it - says it is comparable to "toilet bowl."

Let me try the same thing for men:

stud - comparable to "slut" but it shouldn't even be here because it is never used pejoratively unless preceded by the scowling words, "He thinks he's such a..." or comparable comments.

jerk - thoughtless and selfish

heel - what is this? Somebody who has no values or manners?

warlock - ha! nobody ever calls a man a warlock in the same sense as people call women a witch - that was just a joke!

cad - what is this? Somebody heartless?

prick - about as dismissive as "bag", maybe. Kind of like the c-word except I really think the user of the word "prick" means the body-part owner is reducing himself to a small part of himself. Said more in bitter, head-shaking irritation than in anger. With the c-word I feel the speaker is saying that the female body-part owner has no value but that. I think of it as a very angry word. (Am I just being sexist here?)

rat - a low-life? Bringer of plague and suffering?

scoundrel - more of the meaning comparable to witch here, I think. This person will stop at nothing - and I believe it is only used when referring to a man.

bastard - an insult, definitely, but much more of an insult to his mother, I think (if you put a high value on sexual virtue and chastity.)

Why am I even ruminating about this stuff? Probably because it is gray old February, and quite possibly because maybe it will be my New Year's Valentine's Day gift resolution to try really hard to quit thinking of anyone (especially me!) using any of the above vocabulary words! And if I can get others to stop using them, too (especially about me!) then maybe by Valentine's Day I can feel more loving!

February 1, 2008 Valparaiso, IN

Maybe it is seeing a shiny Valentine's display in the window of a local patisserie, but I'm already feeling the Valentine's heebie-jeebies coming on - the Valentine's creeps. That oh-no-what-is-going-to-happen-this-year feeling.

Men (and women too, I guess) get skittish and/or anxious when Valentine's Day comes around. They are likely to imagine signals that aren't there or become more conscious of a lack in their lives - or worse, an inappropriate abundance - romantism that exceeds the reality of their feelings.

It doesn't help that February is my least favorite month of the year (although come to think of it, the fault may lie partly with Valentine's Day! Too many romantic disappointments! It is no wonder, I think, that the 3rd Monday in January (or thereabouts) is the biggest day for suicide in the United States. You manage to survive the "holidays" and oh no! There's a hugely uncomfortable one just around the corner!

I find it especially difficult to get through February in gray climates. Valentine's Day just adds to the stress. The only way I can handle Valentine's Day is to broaden its scope from solely romance to other expressions of love. Many other people, of course, do this also. And then, so what is so special about that? We do that all the time anyway, don't we? Well, don't we?

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