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Rumilluminations (May 20-31, 08)
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Tue, May 20 2008 - 1:33 pm

May 31, 2008                                      Valparaiso, IN

Whew!  Did the dissaffection of the youth of the sixties and seventies from organized Christian religion result in the churches lowering their standards for admission into seminaries?

What is going on with the ministry today?  (I don't know from personal experience - I haven't set foot in a church (except for a Quaker Meeting room) in years!

I guess I'm just seeing what is turning up on TV - which, evidently, is like turning over a stone!  What is it with these ministers who are so hateful?  Where is their sense of their own "sinful beings" (a phrase I learned in church!)  Where is their sense of modesty?  (Hey, I'm not particularly modest, but I don't hold myself up as a spiritual leader!)  Where is their - for Pete's sake - INTELLIGENCE?

These guys are like teenagers who shoot down people in school just to get famous!  They are showing themselves to be willing to sacrifice any cause or any body for their own idiotic fifteen minutes of infamy!

What do you expect from your church?  What do you expect from your spiritual leaders?

Hell, I don't have to go to church and listen to a sermon to learn how to behave like an asshole!

Spare me.  This behavior is better suited to a bar room.  Quite frankly, I don't even want to see it on the news.

Strangely enough, I feel more diminished as a human being by watching their pulpit shenanigans than I do by watching war news.  At least those people are serious.  At least those people feel they have a cause and are putting their lives on the line.

Maybe it's just personal mortification at being culturally identified with these ministers of "Christian" hate that bothers me so much. 

May 30, 2008                                   Valparaiso, IN

The weather report promises gray, rainy weather and storms across much of the central U.S. today.  I did hear the robin's morning croon before it was light today - at least an hour ago, and it is now 6:15 A.M.!  Here the sky is at best ecru!  (Actually that could be a bad sign.  Ecru here, yellow farther west - could be tornadoes out there!)

I had decided (when I used a gray day as an excuse to give myself a kudo) that some other gray day I would write about quilt ideas.  As with many quilters, I have had more ideas than I could act on.  Sometimes I don't get around to making what I would like to see, so I thought it might be fun to throw some ideas out there, and see if someday I see them thrown on a sofa or a bed! 

I thought it would be fun to make a quilt that looks like one of those big jersey-loop potholders we made as kids!  Have each "loop" be a quilt and then weave them, of course having that same cool loop-over-loop (is that where "loop-de-loop" comes from?) for the border.  No boring last minute finishing off!  And it would bring some of that sexy creative kitchen vibe to bed with us!  The Kitsch-Quilt!  (This idea Andy Warhol-inspired, of course.  And it might be easier to forget the "quilt" part and just use the same idea with stretchy knitted fabric instead.)

Whoever said a bed quilt has to be two-dimensional?  I thought it would be fun to make a pleated plaid quilt!  It occurred to me that more surface area per person might just remedy some of the night-fight for covers.  The border would be the same size as usual, but the actual quilt would be pleated.  Gee!  I'm almost inspired to make it myself!  Ha!  I'd call it the Kilt-Quilt!

Of course, it would not have to be plaid.  That idea might be great in Chinese or Japanese fabrics, with dragons playing hide-and-seek in billowing clouds!

If I remember correctly historically some Japanese would wear a voluminous kimono to bed that would act as bedding.  Ha! talk about a battle of the sexes!  Do the blankets always end up on your spouse's side?  Try making yourself a sensual, floaty quilted kimono!  A Qui-Mono!  (That's the only way I, for one, would ever give up my beloved "man-hating" (don't take everything so personally, guys!) flannels in the winter.)

Nothing like a cool rainy day today to inspire a project that will keep you warm in the fall! 



May 29, 2008                               Valparaiso, IN

This morning, lying in bed, I didn't hear the robin warbling away.  That supremely comforting and domestic sound has been one of the rewards for moving back to my hometown.  Sure, there is the cardinal, kind of pert and cocky.  I just now heard the melancholy oo-oo of the mourning dove, which certainly sounds like an Eeyore of a bird.

But there is nothing quite like the cheerful yet tender song of the robin.  There is no wonder the robin is so famous.  (Yeah, it is common, but so is the English Sparrow!)

I'm worried because yesterday when I was sitting on the living room couch (usually unoccupied) something hit the picture window behind my head - hard.  I went outside to see what it might have been and could find nothing on the ground.  I looked at the window itself and there were a few fluffy feathers where the point of impact sounded to be.

There was at least one baby bird and one egg in the robins nest a few feet away - no mama in sight.  Well, she leaves it empty sometimes to do her "shopping."

But now, this morning, no morning greeting.

(Could be I'm just being hypervigilant because last week I found two white bird's eggs on the ground, broken, their little occupants dead.  I don't know where their nest was or what happened.  High winds the day before?)

I'm going to do a well-being check on the robins right now!


That didn't take long.  Robin is on his/her nest, all's right with their world as far as I can tell.  Maybe the stage of parental care has arrived where nobody feels like singing!

Or maybe I just slept through the matins.


May 28, 2008                                Valparaiso, IN

I wonder when the idea of uniforms first came along.  It makes me take a new look at the Garden of Eden and its nakedness.  Did Adam and Eve first put on clothing because they were ashamed of being bare, as the Bible reports?

I can think of a whole bunch of reasons for donning clothes.  Being cold is one of them, although I guess in the Garden of Eden everything was perfectly comfortable.

Not!  Everyone who has been married knows that no man and woman ever agreed on a comfortable temperature all the time!

(Well, maybe that's what sun and shade are made for!  Once the beautiful Garden was lost to us, we had to build our own shade in the form of walls - and pyramids, maybe!  "Meet me at the corner of the pyramid" always meant whatever corner thereof offered both sun and shade at the proposed meeting time!)

We all know what trouble walls and pyramids have caused!

But back to uniforms.

The uniform of the Amazon was to lop off something - one breast - no clothing required. 

I suppose the next body-ornamenting craze (oh, yes, style is a uniform, too!) could be sporting a bifurcated penis, which I have seen pictured on the internet.  (Not on a marsupial, which was what I was looking for, but on a human (which, silly me - ignorant of some tribal Australian customs practiced in the land of the largest marsupial) I had never even dreamt of!  From what I understand, the largest kangaroos don't have bifurcated penises.  Maybe the smaller tribesmen started splitting their own as a way to avoid challeging those big boxing kangaroos!  "Please, don't attack me, I'm just a little ol' bifurcated Wallabee!")

The followers of the majority opposition in Myanmar, I read, wear pink with conical pink hats.  (Now that is one uniform I would really like to see!  (Please, photographers?!))

Most people wear a uniform, at least at first, to show support and solidarity. 

Hmmm... that word is a little too close to "soldierly" for my comfort.

Maybe that's why the uniform ends up being a reason to fight with strangers!  (It would be interesting to see if the words for uniforms and troops are related in most ancient languages.)

Put your supporters in uniforms!  Even if they don't fight, at least they won't be able to fall prey to St. Peter's weakness!

Interesting that many people interested in engaging in religious wars also are the most fully draped - whether in traditional Muslim garb or medieval armor!

It's okay to fight, but heaven save us from the beautiful human body and its pleasures!

I guess as long as we wear clothes, there is no escape from wearing some sort of uniform.

It's almost enough to make you become a nudist!


May 27, 2008                                   Valparaiso, IN

Now that I am reading a little more about physics (having gotten (at least theoretically - don't ask me to do the math!) past vectors and such), I am inclined to think that scientists are the most optimistic people in the world!

I'm not talking about their personal lives.  I'm talking about what they work towards, and how futile their work must seem at times.  And yet look at all the wonderful things that have resulted from their work!

Even spiritual communities resistant to technological change seem to adopt the products of scientific research, after a century or two has come along bringing newer inventions that make the older ones seem less evil!

Imagine the optimism involved in learning as much as possible - taking in as much information you can - in order to change your existence instead of just submitting to what is!  (Take that, Jean-Paul Sartre!  Gee, I just realized he has my two least favorite male first names!)

It makes me realize how undercompensated scientists are.  Ah, the inequality of life!  Now, how can we take some of the overcompensation of sports and arts entertainers in this country and move it to compensate those who actually help us have the happy life and leisure that allow us to enjoy these seemingly larger-than-life entertainers?

Maybe the entertainers themselves could be moved to do this!

(The physicists are probably laughing at me.  Even they aren't that optimistic!)

P.S.  Actually, the scientific technique of getting as much information as possible in order to have tools for making good decisions about what direction to take helps in our personal lives, also!

May 26, 2008                                 Valparaiso, IN

What is the opposite of "conventional wisdom?"

Unconventional folly?

But what about conventional folly?  Wouldn't that be the opposite of conventional wisdom?

Or how about unconventional wisdom?  Is such a thing possible?  I'm sure some would say absolutely not!

Others might say that wisdom is not really so conventional at all.  They might say that it is very rare!

What?  You are saying that only single elements can have a true opposite?  Like a single word?

Okay, how about black and white?  Black is the absence of light, supposedly, while white has pretty much the whole visible spectrum.  But black retains all those colors of light (and turns them into heat) while white shoots them all out, thus retaining none.  Even those words are fraught with difficulty!

Just goes to show that maybe polarization doesn't work so well.  It's automatically an oversimplification!

I just read that if you take a polarized (magnetic) field and try to isolate the end with a positive charge, it just repolarizes to create a smaller field, still possessing plus and minus charges!

So just as difficult as it is to polarize, it is equally difficult not to!

Just a light (humorous?) note on a serious (dark?) day!

But days are light....

May 25, 2008                             Valparaiso, IN

Hearing about an aftershock in China that has killed one more person, and injured hundreds of others, I have to think that those people are never going to feel really safe again.

How is a nation going to deal with millions of people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?  There the condition could be considered part of what is "normal."  I think the nation of China itself probably has PTSD.

Same for Myanmar, perhaps.  How can you deal logically with a situation such as giving aid to your people when you are in a state of shock yourself?

Seems to me we, who are not involved in the situation, are in the best position to say what aid should be given.  (We being, say, the U.N.)  What is the problem with parachuting food and medicine into the afflicted regions?  How could that possibly be interpreted as invasion?  Are the military folks in power afraid that there will be explosives and guns in those boxes?

Well, for the military to be afraid of being attacked by guns and explosives is never paranoia.

People of the world, I say to you:  Don't trust any President or Prime Minister, no matter what title he possesses, who wears a military uniform.  Don't believe that he is interested in democracy or in watching the unfolding of miracles that free people can create.

If he wears a suit (or some traditional native dress) he is at least pretending to have an allegiance to something higher and more noble than might.

If he is wearing a military uniform, his statement of allegiance to the basis of his control is blatant:   raw force.  And freedom and creativity and your very lives be damned.

Or is he just in shock?

May 24, 2008                             Valparaiso, IN

This morning I was lying in bed thinking about the quilt gardens that have been planted in several communities in the northeastern corner of Indiana.  As I recall, Goshen is close to the geographical center of the group.  I'm looking forward to visiting them, in spite of the fact that they are more formal than my usual taste in gardens!

How interesting!  For centuries, people have been putting gardens on quilts.  Corvallis, OR, has a Quilts in the Garden tour every other year (in early September, maybe?) and now Indiana has a Garden as Quilt tour!  What fun!  The Indiana idea will be a draw all summer - the gardens are going to be growing and open to the public from May through September.  That might be a good nearby goal for a summer vacation:  garden tour one day, maybe a trip to one of the Great Lakes (Erie or Michigan) the next!

If I had a week, I would like to go town- and garden-hopping by bike!  If I can't do it in real life, maybe I'll do it via quilt.

Does anyone know of any other garden/quilt juxtapositions in people's summer thinking? 


May 23, 2008                             Valparaiso, IN

Today is a gray day, so I'm going to cheer myself up by giving myself a kudo.

Have you heard of the TV show "Dexter"?  The one that The New York Times said a few weeks ago was the best series on TV?

That show was my idea.

So what if it was also five (or fifty? or 100?) other people's idea at about the same time?  It was a genius idea, and it was MINE.

So what if other people get all the profits?  They did all the creative work fleshing out the story, making the psychology and motivation and all hang together beautifully.

I'm not saying the idea was stolen from me, although their motivational solution is also MINE.

I sure do wish, though, that I had made a story out of it when I had the idea!  Then I could at least vie for bragging rights!

But now, as I venture out on a walk on this gray day, I feel sunny inside!  I got a kudo!  My shoulder-blade still tingles from my self-administered pat on the back!

May 22, 2008                                     Valparaiso, IN

The homeless, cold, shivering, suffering that is going on in the world right now is overwhelming.  Myanmar is still wet, I think.  China is asking for tents to house the people rendered homeless by the earthquake.

People are wanting to lay blame for the shoddily built schools there, but was that corruption or just doing the best they could with the resources they had?

There's a response to your "perception is reality," folks.  Two buildings may look the same, but you may be sure that one that can withstand a 7.9 Richter earthquake is a hell of a lot more expensive than one that can only stand a 3-4 R shock.  I wonder how many of our schools would hold up under that kind of assault?

Is this tragedy one that could it have been avoided by a more traditionally Chinese approach to building?  Or was it inevitable given China's population explosion?  The country which is trying so hard to modernize will be temporarily housing many of its citizens in tents.  Hopefully.  A tent is way better than nothing!

The U.S. doesn't have much right to cast stones, however.  Many of our citizenry live in cars.

I have for years believed that eventually, here in the U.S., the new standard flatware for the poor, replacing stainless steel and aluminum, will be plastic.

My imagination didn't go so far as to think that most of us would someday be living in cars or tents.

Myself, I think I would prefer a tent!

Oh, yeah, tents.  China.  I think it is past time to open that envelope from the American Friends Service Committee.

Let's make a toast by clicking checks to our favorite people-oriented charitable relief organizations!

I'll plink to that!

May 21, 2008                                 Valparaiso, IN

Today a boy living in the region got struck by a freight train.  He did not hear it in spite of the fact that the engineer blew the whistle about 50 times. The teen was wearing earphones and listening to music.  Walking into the wind is another way to miss the locomotive's whistle when it is coming up behind you, the article in the paper quoted a railroad official as saying.

Several teens have been killed by trains in Northern Indiana in the last year or so (in the last week or so!)  This prompted me to Google suicide by train.  This is common in Europe where people find it more difficult to get their hands on firearms, and seems to be getting more common in the U.S.  The word of the first site I visited - getting hit by a train is not a guarantee of instant or painless death, or death at all, and is very traumatic to everyone involved, not just the person hit.

Sometimes I wonder if children are being too protected nowadays.  Have they never had the wind knocked out of them?  Have they never had their skin broken?  Do they not realize that wounds HURT?

As in the horrible suicide-club video I just saw on you-tube, it's all on the screen.  Blood and gore everywhere, who cares?  It isn't real!  (It does arouse an emotional response, I admit.  How far are we willing to go to get an emotional response?  Is the sole purpose of 'art' to arouse the emotions?  Maybe we are getting addicted to emotional arousal!) 

I have often wondered about safety issues when I see women walking or jogging with earphones on.  How can they possibly feel safe when they have cut off one of their basic survival mechanisms?  Do they feel they have an invisible protective shield that will protect them when their ears aren't working?  Sure this is a relatively safe town, but is it that safe?  Drivers, bikers, and other humans sometimes make mistakes even when they mean no harm.  I can't imagine cutting off one of my sensory input mechanisms (gee, you can tell I went to Iron Man recently!) in order to - what?  Relieve the boredom of being out in the world?

If you read while walking (as I have been known to do) you don't cut off your visual field completely.

Yeah, you're right.  It's still dumb!

May 20, 2008                                  Valparaiso, IN

It is interesting to see the evolution of a neighborhood.  When we moved into this (then) forty-year-old house there were mostly older people here.

The trees were mature and healthy.  You could walk around in the summer protected by friendly shade - not to be found east of the street our house is on, which had small, new houses and small new trees.

Now the trees surrounding us are beginning to go.  I am thankful that we have big trees to the south and west of the house to protect us from the hot sun late in the day, but the number of big trees along the street are diminishing (except to the East, of course!)

Because of the electrical wires the city does not want big trees along here.  There may even be an ordinance against them now (this is true in Corvallis, OR.)  We have to try to get trees broad enough for shade but short enough for wires, or our pedestrians are going to be very uncomfortable in the summer.

We can't afford to have our pedestrians and bicyclists uncomfortable!  If we want to encourage people to use environmentally friendly modes of transportation, it has to be as painless as possible!

The neighborhood has changed in other ways.  I can hear a woodpecker (Downy, I think, from his small size) rapping away at the dead part of one of the remaining maples at our neighbors' house.  I saw a catbird in our yard for the first time, also a couple of goldfinches, who seemed to be eating something from a cord hanging from the clothesline.  (Later I looked and saw ants on the cord and line.  Do goldfinches eat ants?  I'll have to look it up!)  Geese fly overhead low these days in a way I never saw them do in the past.

Lots of young people with small children are now living in the neighborhood.  They walk by with strollers and stand with their children waiting for the school bus, which never picked up little kids here when I was a child.  The school I went to, a block away from here, is now a senior citizens's center, where I take Tai Chi!

Lots of changes, lots of them good - at least for me!

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