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Rumilluminations XIII
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Wed, April 23 2008 - 9:16 am

April 30, 2008                               Valparaiso, IN

This being the last day of April, I am thinking of folly some more, especially with relation to some of the abuses I wrote about yesterday, which I think are strongly linked to the idea of competition.  I have a week's worth of stuff, though, I bet!  It will go spilling into May!

Competition is a curious thing.  As I was pulling dandelions this morning near our ash tree, I started thinking about the Emerald Ash Beetle and the threat it poses to all the region's ash trees.  I thought, well, maybe ours will be spared.  Maybe our ash tree will be the only old ash tree (it is not old yet!) for miles around.

Was that a competitive thought?  Or wishful thinking, that we might deflect what looks to be the ultimate fate of these really beautiful trees?

I tried to think of reasons our ash tree might be spared.  It is growing in a group of three trees; the other two are walnuts.  Lots of plants can't grow around walnuts.  Maybe, just maybe, I thought, the substance in walnuts, juglans, is so disliked by that beetle that its very prevalence in the area of two walnut trees will keep the beetle away!

The idea of companion planting in the garden is not new.  People have been using it for centuries (although how effective it really is I don't know.  I've written before about how marigolds don't keep aphids off tomatoes.  Aphids just don't like tomatoes!)  But I wonder if arborists or other scientists have studied companion planting with trees.

In old magic the protective circle is very powerful.  Could it be that a vulnerable tree placed in an environment of other trees that are anathema to a pest could actually reach a ripe old age because of the company it is keeping?

I hope so.  I hope Emerald Ash Beetles hate walnuts with a passion!

Meanwhile I will keep looking for telltale beetle holes in our precious ash tree!

April 29, 2008                                     Valparaiso, IN

There have been a lot of items in the news lately about men (sometimes with the aid of women) creating a whole living environment around women and children that are chilling me to the bone.

1.  A man in Austria, creating a homelike, colorful dungeon for his 18-year-old daughter, forcing her to have sex with him, and fathering half a dozen children, three of which he pretended to find on the doorstep, and which he and his wife were bringing up.  Three of his children who were left in the basement with their mother never once saw the light of day for their whole lives (over a decade!) until their dad/grandfather was found out.

2.  The I-forget-the-name-of-it-church in Texas which has a whole community designed around protecting the practice (31 out of 52 or so underage girls either a mom or pregnant!) of "marrying" underage women.  The women in this community seem to be so brainwashed into believing that they are loved and loving that they don't seem to care that they have no freedom!  Or that they are depriving their own daughters of their "inalienable" rights!  I wonder if they teach about government and the law in those closed classrooms!  I wonder if those children know anything about the country they are living in! 

3.  And finally, parents of an 11-year-old diabetic girl who allow her to die rather than go against their religion and get the child medical treatment.

We can say we have all the freedoms we want, but we don't seem to be able to guarantee these freedoms to our citizens, especially our minors.  When does your freedom of religion infringe on my inalienable rights? 

Is there a solution to this incredible problem of people illegally using and imprisoning and failing their duty to care for other people?

Do we have people getting together and brainstorming about how to try to reduce the incidence, or at least the magnitude of the abuses?  Not the FBI - just ordinary, randomly selected people.  Got any ideas?

I sure haven't thought of a good solution.

Maybe that's why I just can't seem to get warm, lately.

Unless - maybe - we could start considering love a way of seeing instead of a way of feeling.  People who experience love as a feeling often fail to perceive the person who they supposedly love as real, independent beings.  If we redefine "love" as a way of looking at someone else and seeing what that person needs instead of how we feel towards them, maybe we can at least cut through some of the emotive bullshit that surrounds the confusion that reigns in pedophiles, false church fathers - and in us.

Of course this kind of philosophizing begs the question, do the perpetrators of these abuses really think they care?


April 28, 2008                                  Valparaiso, IN

It is kind of ironic that the goal of meditation is to empty the mind, while the goal of education is to fill it.

An empty-headed lad or lass is regarded very critically in our society, and I would be surprised if it was really any different elsewhere.

So I guess it is another of those level-of-consciousness things.  It is okay to have an empty head while meditating after you have learned a bunch of stuff useful to your society (or at least your meditation group!)

Kind of like it is okay to break grammar or aesthetic rules to attain certain effects, but only if you have made it clear that you have mastered the rules in the first place!

Heh.  Well, I plead guilty to maybe intentionally misunderstanding the role of emptying one's mind in meditation, and what you are supposed to be emptying it of, but you have to admit... it seems a little ironic! 

April 27, 2008                               Valparaiso, IN

I am presently taking a Tai Chi course.  I'm a terrible student, I'm afraid, but I am certainly enjoying the class, which is for "seniors."  Of particular interest to me is the way the teacher, Jack Walker, tells us to take a step.  He says Westerners fall onto the foot that is taking the step.  In Tai Chi, you never move your center of gravity so that you are falling into the step.  In full control at all times, you place your foot down.  (Tai Chi, though much like a dance, is a martial art.  Stability of stance is very important!)

His commentary on step-taking transports me back to my square-dancing days at the University of New Mexico.  There an immensely talented caller, Bill Litchman, taught us square dancing, contra dancing, the waltz and other round dances (called that because the couples stay in circle formation while performing them.)  I believe it was there that I had a bare introduction to native American dancing.  (Don't even ask me what tribe - a tribe that appeared to do a very simple dance in circles.)

The Native American who taught us the dance said it all begins with how you take a step.  White man, this veteran of hours-long dances said, puts his foot down when he takes a step.  The Native American lifts his foot up off the ground.  The emphasis is on the lifting up, not the tromping down.

Off course this begs for a little green commentary.  It's time for us to lighten our step a little, maybe.

A yeti has a carbon footprint way smaller than ours!

April 26, 2008                                  Valparaiso, IN

Having put the spotlight on Bush re "going green," I thought in order to be fair, I would Google Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and "personal initiative" and "going green" to see if I could find whether either of them has taken any steps in their personal lives to help with the earth's environment - besides talking about its importance.

Although Obama has personally done activist stuff with regards to cleaning up and changing communities (see and both candidates have good voting records re the environment I didn't find anything about their personal greenish habits.

Can anyone give me information about either candidate's at-home environmental initiatives?  I love to see people practicing what they preach!

I must admit, while I love the Internet's capabilities as a research tool, I feel insecure using it.  For one thing, it relies so heavily on "buzzwords."

I first heard the expression in the early nineties when I was talking to a New Mexico State employee about getting a State job.  She said that the people hiring for the State look for "buzzwords" in your application.  I resisted taking this advice.  Guess it's the artist in me, but I like to use different words all the time.  No surprise, I never got a job with the state.

It never crossed my mind at the time, but maybe the State wanted "buzzwords" because they had computers, not humans, scanning the applications!  (I doubt it, but if that was the case, and I had known it, I surely would not have resisted using buzzwords!  Intelligently selective, critical, and human I don't expect a machine to be!)

Now, when I try to look up something on the Internet, I am insecure about having the right "buzzword" to call up the information I want.  Once I find a reference, I often cannot find the article that contains the words/subject I want.  The search engines do not select only an article that contains all the elements I am asking for.  It will give me a whole site that somewhere includes everything I want, except for the minor detail that I want the elements to relate to each other!

I've decided the Internet speaks Chinese.  Oh, it doesn't use Chinese script, in which two symbols are juxtaposed and the relationship between them merely implied.  (As I understand it, traditional Chinese has no verbs.  I don't know if it is still like that.)  In fact, at least the Chinese symbols are related to each other by position!  When I google three separate phrases, the ones I come up with usually don't even share the same article.

So, on second thought, the Internet doesn't speak Chinese.  Saying so insults the Chinese language.

But the Internet's humongous superhighway buzzword reach makes me realize that there really is hope for the written word in the traditional, backwoods, blue-highway form of books!  About mostly one subject!  With, if I am really superlatively lucky, an INDEX!

Oh well, I can always dream!  on the way to the library!

 April 25, 2008                                   Valparaiso, IN

Want something as consistent as your morning cup of coffee?  That would not be me.

Truth time:

I feel so would-be-manipulated by politians, friends, family, lovers, the media, (and the same entities by proxy in my most private internal kingdom, the Realm of Introspection!  (No, it is not even safe there!, here!)) that sometimes I feel reduced to nothing but a teardrop on a Formica tabletop.  Or I should say, a victim of attempted reduction to nothing but a teardrop on a tabletop.

I am Teardrop.  Watch me spitFire!


April 24, 2008                                     Valparaiso, IN

I was at an "Our Town"-inspired discussion last night in which people talked about Valparaiso in ways I just could not recognize.  It really made me realize that people who move to a town as adults just don't see the same underbelly of the critter that people who were there as children see.

Well, you know the old saying about the cruelty of children!  Maybe the reason people who move to a new community of adults often like it so much better than their native community is that they are now hanging out with grown-ups (I thought of a pun the other day - groan-ups!)  What do you know, maybe grown-ups, as immature as we may sometimes be, are kinder and nicer than those kids who tormented us as children!

Maybe it is partly environment.  Perhaps, no matter what our childhood environment, when we grow up we want something different.  Carlos Castaneda says that is the way of the warrior.

Goodbye past, hello future!

April 23, 2008                                     Valparaiso, IN

Like a good many other people, I have been stewing over whether to vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the upcoming primary.

I think I have decided to vote for Hillary Clinton, and here's why:

I first heard about Hillary Clinton in her own right when she tried to get universal health care coverage, and I remember how she was treated for having such presumption.  And here she is, still (or again!) fighting for health care for everybody!

I first heard about Barack Obama when he became a candidate in the Presidential race.

Clinton and Obama have, as far as I can tell, indistinguishable views on what to do about the War in Iraq.  True, Obama voted against it from the beginning, but that was then.  Now we are in it, and either of them will have to bend to the unpleasant reality that there will be no bloodless solution to this mess!  I can only hope that their philosophies will navigate them through the process in a way that will please me more than McCain's hawkish attitudes would.

I think it is Hillary Clinton's attitude (of long standing!) toward health care that has earned her my vote in the upcoming Indiana Primary.  I have come to the realization that it may be a matter of life and death for me and many other older folks, because we have no health insurance.  (I haven't seen statistics, but I bet a good portion of the uninsured are women!)

If I vote for Clinton now, I figure, I may have a better chance of living to vote for Obama in a future election.  (He is espousing only health coverage for all children.)

I may even donate to Clinton's campaign.  The money I give could be looked upon as an investment in my future health!

 I don't understand the furor over the fight for this Democratic nomination, in a country that watches "play" battles in the form of sports with great enthusiasm.

Relax, America!  Sit back and enjoy the show!  Then vote Democrat in the fall no matter who wins!

I sure don't want to spend the next four years looking at McCain's complacent mug!

April 22, 2008 - lost - paraphrased         Valparaiso, IN

A local health food store started issuing "customer loyalty" cards a year or two ago.  If you spend more than $10, your card is punched.  After 10 punches, you get $10 off your next purchase.  Often when I shop there it is on impulse and I don't have my card.  I find myself resenting the fact that I'm not getting proper credit.

They aren't rewarding loyalty, I grump.  They are rewarding organizational skills!  I hated it when Safeway instituted different prices for people with their Safeway card!

But really, is loyalty something that ought to be rewarded with money?  Isn't that more like a paid consideration?

I think we should shop at little stores not out of loyalty (I'm under no illusion that my friendly neighborhood shopkeepers are friends!), but out of enlightened self-interest!

Support your local businesses so you don't have a boarded up, trashy town center!

(I probably keep forgetting my "customer loyalty" card because it's my way of saying, "My loyalty can't be bought."  I actually think I feel less loyal since they brought out the card!)

April  20/21, 2008 - lostI think this is one!  Valpo, IN

Speaking of green, I am green with envy sometimes when I see the great gardens and gardening achievements of others.

But I'm doing my best with what I have!  I'm planting early crops in the spots that get the earliest golden slanting sun.  Seeds I planted just a few days ago are already sprouting a beautiful chartreuse!  I'm tickled pink!  I just hope it is too early for those pesky little black flea beetles that can be so devastating to young seedlings!  (Part of the trick of green gardening is keeping the growth curve of your plants ahead of the geometric population burst of the pests!)

In a week or two I will plant the same crops in a place that is too shady right now, but when the plants come up (and the sun is higher in the sky) there will be plenty of yellow sunlight for their needs.

Every little bit of food that I grow doesn't have to come to my town in a dusty-brown truck!

So don't be blue!  Get down and dirty in that rich, black soil!  Get red with exertion!  Get purple with pride!  (!!huh?!)

 It's easy, being green!


April 19, 2008 - lost - approximated         Valparaiso, IN

I guess that Bush has started talking "green" and conservation.  So I thought I'd check up on him and see what he has actually done.

Has he started serving less meat?  I haven't heard a peep!  Of course he's from Texas - has to support the beef and oil industries!  (Which makes me wonder - how can we possibly get a disinterested President?  Maybe not electing a businessman for the job might be a good first step!)

Are there any solar panels on the White House lawn or buildings or outbuildings?  Any windmills generating power on his property in Texas, of any solar energy projects at his home there?  Lots of sun in droughty old Texas!

I googled "President Bush" and "going green" and didn't find any personal initiatives for him!  Kind of strange in a man named Bush!  You'd think he would want to be green!  Oh well, I'm afraid Bush is sere and dry as his home state right now.  He's about to drop his last Presidential leaves!

April 18, 2008 - lost - shorter reconstruction!    Valpo IN

How green is my Vatican City?

In 2007 the Vatican City accepted a donation from Planktos/Klima-Fa of "carbon credits" in the form of a mixed forest they are planting in a Hungarian National Park to offset the Carbon footprint of the City as calculated for the year 2007.  When this forest will mature enough to actually do this is unclear to me.

All Catholic Churches all over the world are encouraged by the Pope to take similar steps to reduce or eliminate their carbon footprints.  This could make a real difference!

The Vatican City has put solar panels on the roof of an auditorium that seats 6500 people to reduce the amount of outside energy required by that edifice.

Every little bit helps!

April 17 - lost - approximate reconstruction    Valpo IN

A friend of mine gently told me that the Pope never attends such things as dinner in his honor.  He always sends representatives.

So I will take my virtual foot out of my virtual mouth and back off of the righteous indignation (I almost wrote indigestion (this time!))

I have to admit the Pope is doing some stuff right.  Actually meeting with victims of sexual abuse was a wonderful way to deal with the scandal as well as the actual suffering of the victims.  Considering the damage done to these people, it seems like an obvious move, but it never crossed my mind to expect him to do it.

The Pope also pays at least lip service to conservation.  What has he actually done?  How green is my Vatican?

More tomorrow!

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