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Rumilluminations Aug.26 - Sept. 30, 2008
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Tue, August 26 2008 - 9:02 am

September 30, 2008                         Santa Fe, NM

Was in a coffee shop with a friend/employer of mine whom I met in Valparaiso.  Java Joe's on Rodeo Road.  "There's no place like this in Valparaiso," she said.

"There are coffee shops in Valpo," I say defensively.  (Why on earth am I trying to defend Valparaiso?)

"Yes, but not with this kind of energy."

I think back, and I have to agree.  She's right.  Not with this kind of energy.  The coffee shop is bustling merrily with a high proportion of people with beautiful bare legs

On my way downtown I reflect that the kind of energy that is great in a coffee shop is kind of scary on the road.  I've seen mean behavior in the last week I never see in Valpo, including the bullying I'm-going-to-hit-you-because-you-went-out-of-turn behavior of a sadistic-faced driver evidently hoping to scare a little old lady to death.  Maybe he was the same person who intentionally came scarily close to me while I had the right-of-way on my bicycle twenty years ago.  Seems like the right age.  Maybe he's a retired serial killer.

I stop in the tourist department to witness the comic performance of a white-haired very black man regaling tourists with a reverse-psychology mock warning against some of the local restaurants and bars.  "There's a restaurant right there," he warns as he jabs at a map of Santa Fe.  "Don't go there, whatever you do.  They serve a margarita that will....."

This guy works for the State?  He is very funny, and when I say he should have a nightclub act, he acts indignant.  "A job?  I don't work!  That's a dirty four-letter word!"  Maybe he's a volunteer, but of course that idea is too rational.

I am tickled pink, even though I have to wait for another counter-person to give me park-and-drive info I need.  How often do you get entertained like that while you're waiting in line?

No, Santa Fe is definitely not Valparaiso, Indiana!  Thank God!

It's great to be home!  Even if it is for only two weeks! 

September 29, 2008                          Santa Fe, NM

Exit the rabid crank, enter the appreciative enthusiast.

Ah, Santa Fe!

When I first got off the plane, no big deal.  I lived here for 26 years, after all.

A short pass through the plaza and I was reminded of how much "scene" there is here, socially speaking.  Does anyone here just wear clothes?

But then I started to walk.  Because of early and relatively abundant rains this year, the plants are big and beautiful.  The yellowest chamisas I've ever seen with unfortunately the strongest smell (they aren't called nauseum for nothing! (although that may be a bit extreme)); the tallest purplest asters I have ever seen here; and dark red Virginia creeper are all spectacular.

I walked out West Alameda all the way to the Commons and there was water in The Santa Fe River for as long as I could see it.  I lived seven years on the corner of Hopi and Osage St. and never saw water in the  river much into the summer unless it had just rained.  My daughter tells me the river has water longer now because they release water from the reservoirs more gradually.

The riverbed is also much richer in vegetation than when I walked along it thirty-three years ago (I lived on Huddleson then), pregnant with my first child.  The trees and shrubs are taller and broader and more.  Of course that wonderful blue, blue sky has always been here!

The next day I visited some old haunts, including the house on east Alameda where my second child was born - now a charitable organization.  I had trouble picking it out, it was so changed.  I managed to look in the windows, and it is improved and redone, but the room where she was born - once the best room in the house - now seems to be divided in two.  The half I could see is a cluttered office.

I found myself weeping.  Sheer nostalgia, I guess, and overwhelming memories of Johnny and Mary and Lynn and Cynthia and other neighbors whose physical presence and personalities were so much a part of my life there.  Not to mention memories of the babies who are now educating me!

What a contrast to my parental home in Valparaiso, which has hardly altered in the fifty-plus years my mother has lived there!  

September 27, 2008                            Santa Fe, NM

What you don't UNDERSTAND, John-do-whatever-I-want McCain, is that if you can't treat your Harvard-educated, savvy, brilliant fellow-United States citizen Barack Obama with respect, how are we supposed to believe you will treat us any better?  Turn your back on him - a Presidential candidate! - and you'd probably step on us commoners like so many ants.  How are we supposed to believe you would treat foreign heads of state any better?  Or if you do, how are we (or they!) supposed to believe in your sincerity?

What you don't UNDERSTAND,  McFeign, is that some of us think that your juvenile and melodramatic and on-phony-principles jerking around of millions of Americans is beginning to be a pain in the ass.  Lots of us can see it for what it is - a technique often used in military and criminal ploys - distraction from the main issues.  (Did you really think you could be of so much help in Washington when you hadn't even READ Paulsen's three-page plan?)

What you don't UNDERSTAND, McPain, is that if you don't have the courage and civility to face your opponent and look him in the eye, even at Jim Lehrer's request, we have trouble believing that you will have the courage or civility to convince anyone that we are a civilized nation that is capable of having any respect for people who aren't white North Americans.

What you don't UNDERSTAND, McCain't, is that your body language, even partially turning your back on the candidate as if you couldn't stand to look at him, is not a superficial thing but a fierce expression of who you are, and that some of us chalk your behavior up to racism.  (I am not black, by the way.)  Or maybe you do understand it, and are sending a very clear message of disdain to all the backwards racists out there that you are with them.  If so, then shame on you.

What you don't UNDERSTAND, McPalin (oops!) is that women are not interchangeable objects to be paraded around and used, or (oops!) are they parading around and using you

What you don't UNDERSTAND, McWane, is that we don't need an elderly uncle telling us what you think we don't understand.  Patronizing Obama doesn't make him look foolish.  It makes you look like everybody's worst nightmare of a know-it-all older relative.  The kind who thinks he knows it all and really doesn't know very much.

What you don't UNDERSTAND,  McWhine, is that many of us don't need to connect emotionally with our President, and if it is important for our President to connect emotionally with people of foreign countries to get things done, Obama has a way better popularity quotient abroad than you do.

Have I equalled the number of "don't understands" that McCain levelled at Obama last night?  I don't know - I didn't start counting until I noticed it.  I do know that I try never to say that to anyone (except maybe when I think they are misinterpreting what I am trying to communicate) because it is bad manners

Too bad McCain and Obama weren't on a wrestling mat last night.  That's the kind of fight the former contender understands.

Gee, I wonder if he fouls in that venue, too?

God help us if he becomes President.

If he does, I just won't UNDERSTAND it!  But I'll understand maybe I should emigrate.  Oh, that's right.  I won't be able to afford to.  Our dollars aren't going to be worth anything!

September 24, 2008 (2)                         Valparaiso, IN

Another paranoid fantasy.  Men in the U.S. secretly hate for women to have the right to sleep with whoever they want to sleep with - unless it is them!  Men in the U.S. are secretly envious of their multi-wived Muslim and old-fashioned Mormon-style polygamists.  They will vote for the serially monogamous (maybe - we don't really know how monogamous he is, do we?) McCain over the evidently monogamous (so far, so good, it seems) Obama and will vote for an anti-woman like Sarah Palin.  (I know this is paranoid, and even at my most paranoid know men who definitely are not like this!)

Unfortunately my thoughts about Sarah Palin are no fantasy.  Here is the male chauvinists' dream - an anti-woman woman.  Please, women of America, do not vote for a woman who despises women who do not succeed (and at her level if she becomes Vice President that will be all of us!)

Do not vote for a woman who will work against women!  (And if you vote for Sarah Palin, how much are you voting for "the First Dude?"  Since Palin believes in women's inferior place (which is part and parcel of most religious fundamentalism), would we really be getting a female Vice President at all, or would we be getting a male Vice President by proxy?

So here I have another "at least I'm not...."  At least I'm not an anti-feminist woman who hates freedom for women!  

September 24, 2008 (1)                         Valparaiso, IN

I guess I'm a bad American.

I don't bathe every day.

I love to walk - don't much like cars except to go on vacation.

I have no taxable income these days, so I don't pay income taxes.

Since I don't drive much, I don't pay much gas tax, so I don't contribute much any more to road-building.  That's positively un-American!

On the other hand, not bathing so much saves water.

Not driving so much saves the environment by reducing my carbon footprint.

Since I don't drive much, I don't use the roads much.  And since I don't buy much, I don't patronize the trucks that abuse the roads as much.

So I may by some standards be unpatriotic, but at least I'm not anti-world idiotic!

September 22, 2008                           Valparaiso, IN

Yesterday, for the first time this fall, I had some serious leaf-crunching underfoot.

Today I saw my first leaf-pile.

A dead-looking possum in the street really was dead, and when a city employee lifted him up with a broad slender-tined tool, its body was stiff.

Some trees are all red already, and many are turning.

Lawns are getting shaggier as home-owners' inclination to mow wanes with the light.

Two years ago there was a neighborhood group to make this a historical district, and now there is a group trying to unmake it.  I don't know if it has polarized the neighborgood (ha! Freudian slip!) or not, but it is one quarrel I no longer want to take sides on.

I'm choosing my battles, and right now an Obama Presidency is my main reason for any risk of antagonizing my Indiana neighbors! 

September 21, 2008                      Valparaiso, IN

Today is the fall equinox.  For those of us used to the toggle of the seasons, does having the day almost equal to the night in length give balance to our reasoning and emotions?

Should Election Day be on the autumnal (rather than vernal because it is a more somber time (we face winter, after all)) rather than the doom-and-gloom depressing beginning of November?

(Oh, shut up, all you types who claim not to be affected by the weather, the light and the temperature.  Start your own blahg!)

I wonder who is up in the polls today.  Is today the day we should be voting for him?

The reports that a large percentage of Presidents have been left-handed makes me add to the speculation about the reasons.  Some say it is because these people have to surmount obstacles at an early age.

Maybe it is also because they are singled out at an early age.  They are used to group attention - not necessarily favorable.

McCain and Obama have both faced very difficult times:  McCain as a POW and Obama as a person of mixed race in a racist culture.  They have both managed to grow wiser from their experiences and turned their potentially life- and soul-threatening situations into energizing self-empowerment.

Gee, can it be that the two have a lot in common besides the fact that they are racing for the highest office in the land?

They are both good at making lemonade, it seems!  Let's hope it isn't too sour!

And let's hope we can use them both as wonderful examples of what the human spirit is capable of, even if we can't use them both as President!

September 20, 2008                      Valparaiso, IN

My latest paranoid fantasy:  Republicans are buying up houses in swing states and installing impoverished young people in them early enough to register locally and vote Republican.

Is this my fantasy?  Or have I read it somewhere?  In a novel?  Or (worse) in a history book?  Or (horrors) in a newspaper?

With rich people being so rich, almost anything seems possible.  What's to stop a consortium of multi-millionaires from buying a few thousand homes at bargain-basement prices?

Oh, and the end of my comment yesterday, when I said the government should save itself?  Well, I was being flip.

But it is amazing how much the government becomes "by the people, of the people, and for the people" when it comes time to pay for the decisions that Republicans have made!

Maybe it is time to start defining "people" more explicitly and making sure that the word has exactly the same meaning throughout the phrase!

September 19, 2008                         Valparaiso, IN

If I have already written about the following, forgive me.  But even if I have, you haven't read it from the perspective of 5 million home foreclosures this year.

Years ago, when I was working at the Visitor's Hospitality Center at the Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe (a United Way supported organization that acts as a liason between prisoners' visitors and the prison) I had a couple of conversations that related to housing.

One was in the late 1980s with a woman who was a visitor or who had a friend visiting.  She told me about her son (not, I trust, in the institution) who had just suffered his third home foreclosure.  It seems he would get a good enough job, it seemed, then lose it and lose his home soon after.

She did not give me details.  Maybe she didn't know them.  Maybe he had some problem that kept him from holding down a job.  But it has served to me as a constant reminder that the story of home-ownership is the same as the story of having children.  Acquisition is definitely not the end of the tale!

And even in the flush eighties, being a good employee would not necessarily protect your job in the event of a takeover or merger.

The other story was even more of a warning note to me.  I met an inmate who told me he was in prison in New Mexico for doing something in the mortgage business that was legal in a lot of other states.

Okay, okay, I know everyone in prison is innocent.  But something about this guy's attitude convinced me that he was telling the truth.  The fact is, even then I thought probably it should be illegal in the other states too.

Add to the natural optimism of the average North American the sense of entitlement we seem to feel that everyone has the right to own his own home and the lack of national loyalty on the part of corporations and voila!

Are we really surprised?  Do you really believe that the government can "save" us?  The government better worry about saving itself! 

September 18, 2008                Valparaiso, IN

The other day I told a friend what I had written about McCain being like Rip Van Winkle.  She responded, "How is McCain like Rip Van Winkle?  He hasn't wakened up yet!"

We who speak/write the English language have quite a complicated job.  When I was trying to record my friend's funny comment, I forgot.

Exactly how did she say it?

Woken up?  Awakened?  Woke up?  You hear all those, and everybody knows what you are saying, but they are not all correct.  But if you right (ha, ha, Freudian flip, ha ha) it correctly, often then it sounds so odd it just isn't funny.  The incorrect form might be the most common.

I bet if I ask her exactly what she said, she won't remember.

Maybe she will, though.  She's pretty accurate with language.  (She teased me the other day for asking her if the road I was driving on would just "automatically" go into another road.  You know what I meant, I bet, but I have to admit it wasn't exactly precise.)  I'll find out if she remembers how somebody wakes up in the past and let you know!

September 17, 2008                           Valparaiso, IN

People are funny critters.

I remember once when I was playing oboe, my teacher talked about a vibrato I had.  What did he call it?  A nervous vibrato? 

He wanted me to get rid of it.  He wanted me to get the quaver out of my tone - in order to ultimately replace it with a controlled quaver - a desirable one, I guess, intended to mimic the "natural" vibration of vocal production.

So I was supposed to get rid of my natural vibrato to substitute for it an artificial vibrato.

I understood why.  The artificial vibrato is more aurally attractive to most people.

As I recall, I did get rid of my natural vibrato.  Whether or not I was ever able to master the artificial vibrato that would make my playing "sing" more I do not recall.  Maybe I did.  Sometimes. A little.  Maybe I got so used to doing it that I don't remember.  Maybe my oboe teacher knows!

It makes me wonder, though, about character development.  Is there a parallel here?

We are taught to squash and stomp out a lot of our more infantile and primitive urges and a good thing, too.

But what do we lose of our "me" when we do it?  Do we internalize the adult values and really become better, more attractive people, and still "ourselves?" 

Was Marilyn Monroe more the real "Norma Jean" after surgery?  Did the "real" Norma Jean decide to take steps for her survival and advancement that she would not have taken had she had a loving nuclear family around her?

"We are what we are."

Well yes.  But what combination of internal and external forces will determine what we will be?

What combo of the internal and the external makes me choose my clothes, words, food, President?

If we don't have control over whether we get what we choose, do we respond by not choosing at all?

If you can't eat what you want, would you rather go hungry?


September 16, 2008 (officially, really the 17th.  Does that make it a lie?  Am I lying if I admit I'm lying?)     Valparaiso, IN

Anyway, a tip from a friend of mine.  When you are putting something important away, say in your mind, "I am putting the ____ in the _____."  That helps you recall where.

I add to that, "if you are predominantly an aural processor."  If you are kinesthetic, make a point of remembering the physical process of putting the object away, maybe.  Add to that how you were feeling when you did it.

If you are a visual person, visualize where you are putting it in a big way, including maybe the path to getting there!

What the hell, it probably expands the brain to do all three!

Oh, by the way, I wasn't lying about the date, I was joking!

That's a lie!

So was I lying?

(Are you confused yet?  Heh heh heh heh....)

September 15, 2008                      Valparaiso, IN

Hmmm... I'm not sure if I feel like talking about my cultural pet peeves any more.  I was going to say we make too many rules that we are not prepared to enforce; hence people disobey rules and then expect there to be no consequences.  This especially doesn't work when you are working with physical laws like the ones that govern hurricanes!

But I am wanting to talk more about the nature of the people of the United States.  Why do we seem not to care when we are financially betrayed and blatantly lied to?

Why do we love people of low behavior?  Do we really find rich people who have no compassion for the poor (forget that - who don't even recognize the existence of the poor!) loveable?

Do we really love people who look at orange and call it green and expect us to agree with them and vote for them?

Why?  Are we really so low that they remind us of ourselves?  We don't have to create rulers in our own image!

I admit Sarah Palin has a kind of puppy appeal.  Unfortunately she is a wolverine pup who seems comical as she tears her way into your life.  She is soooo cute!

But if she charms her way into our governmental house she will wreak havoc and destruction upon our constitutional liberties.

In choosing our leaders, let's try to aim high.  Let's not choose someone who appeals to our basic possibly fearful, racist, father-and-mother-needy lowest denominator.

Please let's not vote for nineteenth-century paternalistic pioneer types!

Please let's have a modern Presidential team that looks forward to greater equality and freedom, not greater control!

Please let's not choose Rip Van Winkle and the Fisherman's Wife who will end up wanting to be God!

Vote Obama & Biden!  Obama Abiding!


September 14, 2008                       Valparaiso, IN

The narrower your worldview, the easier it is to pray, I think.

I'm not talking about innocent little prayers for the health of you and your family and prayers of thanks for the bounties of existence.

I'm talking about prayers that would make you win some prize over others who are praying - to the same God! - for the same prize. I have written before how much I am offended by those who stand up before the world and thank God for their success over others who have prayed to the same God.

But where do your prayers stop?  Do your prayers stop at the borders of your country?  Do you not pray for others because they pray to a different God?  Do you pray to your God for your own good fortune and worldly success while abusing and maltreating others, feeling especially justified if those others don't root on your God's team?

I'm afraid I'm not good enough to play that prayer game.  It's as much as I can do to balance my own desires with some altruism.  Practicing what I preach is hard enough without bringing some poor old ancient doddering God into it.  (Yeah, all right, I know, I know, he's supposed to be eternal!)

Well, whatever.  Just, please, leave Him/Her/It out of your success!  You presume too much!

Me, I am a big fan of the Elegant Universe and trust that it might be better to work hard at what I want success in (nothing, it would seem!) or get into more debt to escape an approaching hurricane than to rely on God (working through mankind) to grant me the reward I have worked so hard for or to save me from the storm.

Which brings me to another of my pet peeves with our culture - but that must wait until tomorrow!

September 13, 2008                        Valparaiso, IN

I think being President of the United States is like having a baby.

No one is ever truly prepared, and no one can really tell you what it is like.

Sarah Palin said a firm "yes" when she was asked if she was ready to be President should the role be thrust upon her.

She reminds me of an overconfident beginning driver who drives too fast for his knowledge of his vehicle.

Her "yes" is easy.  And so is my interpretation of it:  arrogance.

Maybe that is why people who saw her interview with Charles Gibson find her less and less attractive.

Ignorance is only attractive in someone you want to use.

Arrogance is attractive - never!


September 11, 2008                      Valparaiso, IN

In the most recent book I have read by Roberston Davies, he has a character who says in real life people are fooled by flimsy disguises because they want to be fooled.

I hope that the citizens of the good old U.S. aren't fooled by Republicans' nasty insinuating slanderous ads because they want to be.

The American Public is smart enough to make a good decision - if it has enough time.

But having been a mother of three and/or an employed woman for most of my adult life I know how busy most of us are.  Take the political spots for what they are - paid advertisements!

(Just got word that the political ads have been taken off TV for the day.  That's good!  Almost enough to make me take this off!  Not quite enough, though.  Too lazy.)

Oh, and I read recently that many of us are way more influenced by advertising than we think!  That means the influence is at an unconscious level, so let's all try to be as conscious as possible about who we elect for President!

Let's not be willingly - or unwillingly - deceived by tomfoolery!

September 10, 2008                       Valparaiso, IN

Robert Frost wrote a poem questioning whether fences make good neighbors.  I just read the poem again, and my memory that he didn't agree is correct, although, Wow! he was way more judgemental about it than I remembered!

I agree with his neighbor! 

I want to answer - yes!

Today's Rumillumination is written In Celebration of Boundaries!  Down with mushy idealistic mystical merging ideas (except on the mountain top, where they are perfectly appropriate, of course.)  Up with Don't Tread on Me!"

It seems to me that most of my problems and those of many others I listen to have to do with boundaries.  My particular interface, for one.  What is real?  What do I have to pretend is real, if nothing really is?  What do I want to be real?  What do I owe myself in the way of boundaries against "reality?"

The boundaries between two people.    What do I owe others?  What does Jane owe Brad?  Do they realize they are two different beings?  Do they want to recognize they are separate beings with different needs and interests?  Do they know which is which?  

Boundaries between properties keep the peace.  No longer do we have tribes physically fighting over territories.  (Er, well, here in the U.S., usually.)  And when you and your neighbor have to pick up big stones to mend a fence together - one brought down by third parties - it is a great opportunity for bonding!  Good exercise, too!  Suck it up, Robert Frost!

A fence engenders some kind of respect, at least an admission of technical legal right, that fosters peace.

The boundaries may not be fair, but things are generally peaceful.  You do what you want on your side, I do what I want on mine.

But any of those boundaries may have limits.  At what point do you ignore the boundaries and say, "okay, enough occupation!"  (Obviously I am especiall thinking about international relations here.)

But those are extreme situations, I hope.  I pray that those are extreme situations and not the norm of life for most people in the world.

Don't get me wrong.  I know that love is the supreme boundary-breaker and I approve of it very much.  But I've noticed that often people who talk about love want to use me the most.

Gee, I remembered the poem.  How come I can't remember the name of the person who said to Watch out for your wallet when the parson comes calling!

Want more peace in your life?  Learn more about boundaries!  Denying their existence and their usefulness in preserving sanity and peace just creates a muddy puddle!

On your side of the fence, I hope!


September 9, 2008                         Valparaiso, In

The original mavericks?  Give me a break.

I don't understand how the Republican Party got this way.  I know it wasn't always like this, because Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, and he was honest.

Not only was he honest, but he knew the meaning of words.  He had to.  He was an attorney.

So, okay, by Party standards McCain and Palin are mavericks.  By Republican standards!  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!  Oooo, they are revolutionary!  Ha, ha!

Before Palin was born I was watching a show on TV called "Maverick."  James Garner, as I recall.

And even he wasn't acting the part of the original.

To be "the original" anything you have to be the first.

Which means you will probably also have to explain the meaning of the new word you have just given yourself.

I wouldn't be so irritated by their blatant takeover of the words for their PR if they hadn't done worse.  It is a symbol, though, of their blatant attempted takeover of reality and the truth.

These people are "original mavericks" like Diet Pepsi is Classic Coke.

(And have you heard?  Besides tasting bad, Diet Pepsi doesn't do what it says it will!)

September 8, 2008                            Valparaiso, IN

From reading Bill Bryson's The Thunderbolt Kid I'm thinking of another reason maybe some people don't talk so much.

I think I live pretty much in the moment, but maybe they live way more in the moment!

Maybe they live so much in the moment that they can't remember anything from the past, which would just coincidentally include most topics of conversation.

If you only think about what is in front of you, that might be a little inhibiting to speech.  That is, if you don't want to be one of those people who state the obvious.

Just a thought!

Of course, now I can imagine two people with no memories having a conversation trying to interpret what is happening before their very eyes without being beaten up (or even if it their comments are positive, being looked at funny) by the subjects of their conversation.

"Ha, ha," I imagine you saying.  "She must be desperate today!"

Shut up already.   

September 7, 2008                             Valparaiso, IN

Uh-oh, it's Sunday.... I feel a sermon coming on... oh no!  Here it is!

Remember the story of Adam and Eve?  Oh, maybe some of you guys don't.  Well, look it up in your Bible story book!

Anyway, Adam and Eve disobeyed their Daddy (God) by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Modern contemporary Christians seem to think that this is all about sex.  Carnal knowledge is what is important to them, and every once in a while I fall into the same trap of thinking that that is what the apple was all about.

But the knowledge of good and evil is really about almost everything and colors almost all our decisions.  In other words, we have already fallen irretrievably!  Sex or no sex!

We are doomed to knowledge.  So why are so many people who are so willing to learn about sexual knowledge so resistant to any other kind of knowledge?

Being ignorant will not return us to the Garden of Eden, anyway.

(Actually, don't you think that the Genesis view of God is awfully authoritarian?  "You can do anything you want here, kids" (shake of finger) "but don't touch this here tree!"  Then, when they disobey, he kicks them out of their home.  Child abuse and/or neglect!)

Honestly, even allegorically, who wants to accept and submit to this story?

Yeah, I'm learning as much as possible!  Bring on the apples!  And pears and plums and avocados and persimmons!  Cucumbers and bell peppers!  Even star fruit!

We got kicked out of the garden a long time ago!  Don't use that story as an excuse for ignorance, especially if you are sexually active!

You have got to choose between good and evil in this life, and no one is going to save you from that choice.

Thus endeth today's sermon.

Sorry!  Study well!

(Jeez, you'd think students were subjected to fire and brimstone!)

September 6, 2008                         Valparaiso, IN

Doesn't the expression "making history" kind of imply something about where history is going?  If the first ice cream cone had not started something big, its introduction would not have been "making history."  It would be ignored.

For the Republican Party to say it is "making history" by nominating a woman, that is tantamount to saying that this is something that will eventually be more commonplace - that "making history" is a step in the direction that history should be going.  So I guess that for the Republican Party it is a step (however looney in this particular case) that it is going in the right direction away from sexism.

I'll drink to that!  (But probably not a chocolate martini.  So maybe even in my own "history" I couldn't be said to have made history by drinking one.  Maybe what is history is hard liquor in my life.  I just don't think it agrees with me.

I told my daughter that I thought it wasn't good for me, and she said, "It's not good for anyone!" 

Well, true enough.         

September 5, 2008                          Valparaiso, IN

I made history a week or two ago.

I had a chocolate martini!

"What?" you cry, astonished.  "Lots of people have had chocolate martinis!  They weren't invented by you!"

Oh, but I made history in that it was the first chocolate martini I ever had!

Doesn't that count as "making history"?  The Republican Party thinks so!  They "made history" by nominating the first woman VP in history!  (Er, the history of the Republican Party, that is!)

The Democratic Party first made history in the U.S. by nominating a woman for vice-president twenty-eight years ago, which might make the Republican Party look a little behind the times.

Except wasn't Margaret Thatcher Prime Minister of England before Geraldine Ferraro was even nominated?

In the long view, the Republican Party's belated acceptance of women as possible candidates for the highest public offices might look about as important as my chocolate martini!  (After all, who knows what might become of that?)

What can you expect, though, from a political party that wants states (or was it local school districts) to have the right to teach "creationism" along with "other" "science" studies in the public schools?

Let them stick creationism in with the other "isms" of Comparative Religion Class where it belongs! 

September 4, 2008                           Valparaiso, IN

A friend of mine wants to do a cartoon of POWs forming a line up to the White House all carrying signs with "POW for President - Me!"

Everybody has to respect the gravity of McCain's POW experience.

But how does that experience qualify him to be President of the U.S.?  Wasn't that just misfortune?

I felt captive in an unhappy marriage for many years (thinking, most probably erroneously, that staying in the marriage was best for the children.)

Does that experience make me qualified to be a family court judge?  Or, assuming I had the proper credentials (no one denies that McCain is qualified to be President) should my unhappy marital experience make me better qualified?

Such a suggestion seems really foolish, doesn't it?  If anything, personal experience might distort my objectivity!

Yet that is what many people seem to be suggesting re John McCain.

And oh, wow, Sarah Palin!  She's a mom!  How unusual!  And she has three familial situations that would seem misfortunes to many mothers:  a son going to Iraq, an unmarried pregnant teen-age daughter, and a Downs Syndrome baby!

That truly must qualify her to be Vice President of the United States!

Give me a break.

September 3, 2008                           Valparaiso, IN

Ha!  Coalitions in other, more unstable countries band together to oust the status quo, then when they have succeeded in doing that, fail to set up a system that lets them get along.

Here in the U.S., we fight tooth and nail to get into power, but only (ideally) following rules.  Lots of rules.

Then, once the fight is over, we all put the differences aside and work together to keep the country going where?  Well, wherever the ponderous organism called the United States of America predominantly thinks it wants to go.

But honestly, sometimes I think the American organism is like the individual one.  What we think we want is not necessarily what we do want.  And the whole body is put at risk by the brain or the powerful ego (in the case of the U.S., possibly, the oligarchy) thinking it knows best.

Let's hope our national body is not too neurotic, or too full of plain old character flaws!

September 2, 2008                          Valparaiso, IN

NLP, Neurolinguistic Programming, is a fascinating field that aims to help people through knowing how they process information.  In this discipline, the eyes have it.

For NLP practitioners, the eyes may not be the windows to the soul, but they are certainly windows (very visual image, that!) to how the person they are observing is processing information.  Some people are more visually, some more aurally, and some more kinesthetically oriented.  (Are those words?  If so, did I spell them right?)

We all know there are many different kinds of intelligence (or at least I hope we do!), but it occurred to me this morning that NLP might be helpful in sorting intelligence out a little.  Maybe it could help people select fields for themselves and help point them in the right educational directions for a happy, productive future.

For instance, NLP practitioners help us with thought processes, but what about memory?

I have met the mother of one youngster in special education who had an incredible visual memory for people.  Is it possible that others might have fabulous auditory memories that would serve a really useful function in the world?

Could someone with a fabulous kinesthetic memory help in studies of early childhood, or be an instinctive weight-tester for special machine parts?

According to the I Ching society is peaceful and people are content if social position matches quality.  How about rephrasing that to say something more like occupation matches skills and temperament?

It seems to me that studying NLP from different angles that include memory and other mental functions might be able to help people find good fields for themselves!

Any psychologists out there casting around for something to do?  You could have test subjects list memories under different categories, and see where they have the best recall.  Someone who has a great memory for smell might do better as a chef than as a violinist!

Of course, maybe the best chefs have great pheromones!

Boy, life is complicated!

September 1, 2008                         Valparaiso, IN

Labor Day.  Well, if I had been laboring all year, I would have taken today off.  Instead I got up and put a second coat of primer on some window casings and frames I am painting.

It didn't take long.

This afternoon, for the first time in my life, I tried canvassing for a presidential candidate.

I knew it would be an uphill battle here in Valparaiso, but in a way it was worse than I thought.  Most folks weren't home, (or, as I imagined, busy on the phones with neighbors who were warning them that a canvasser was coming (really - it is a pretty dense community!))  But paranoia is not allowed, so we'll just assume they were out on picnics with family and friends, or too elderly to get to the door.

What surprised me was the number of people who didn't want to give their presidential preference at all.  Are they afraid?

Halfway through my list of people, I gave up.  An hour and a half was about all I could muster.  I figure when you start imagining that someone is going to pop you in the kisser before you even open your mouth, that is when it is time to stop!

Only one person was really rude, I must confess.  Some had misinformation about Obama which I did my best to rectify.  But mostly the response was very Valparaiso.  Non-responsive!  Let's not rock the boat!

Okay, true confessions:  half the reason I agreed to canvas was just to prove I had the guts to do it here.

I did!  For an hour and a half, anyway!

August 31, 2008                                Valparaiso, IN

I went to the Taltree Arboretum a month or two ago for a prairie plant walk and the most interesting thing I learned wasn't about a plant!

It was about a continental divide.

Now most of us have heard about THE continental divide, the geographical line that runs north and south from a northern tip of Alaska through the middle of the country (Looks to be through Montana, Colorado and New Mexico) all the way to the southern tip of Mexico.  Roughly all the water that falls or flows to the west of the divide flows west.  Ditto with regards to the east.

(The Band sang a song that had the Great Divide in it - it's a great song, too!)

What I learned that day at Taltree Arboretum is that the Great Divide might be the Great Divide, but it isn't the only one!

A divide running across the country from east to west is unheard of maybe, but it exists - and it is within a mile or so of Taltree, south of Indiana 30 just south of Valparaiso.

There are other divides around also.  News, News!

Our divide is called the St. Lawrence Divide.  All the water north of it runs to the Great Lakes, and all the water south of it runs south!

I have no idea of the meanderings of divide, but I find it exciting to know that we are so close to one.  Just looked it up in Wikipedia via Google and there a few on this continent, not just two!

Maybe I'll write a song about our own divide, that I could crisscross back and forth with my bicycle a few times in an hour or so!  What fun!

Where's the divide closest to you?

August 30, 2008                                 Valparaiso, IN

Oh, did I forget to say it?

Wow, Obama!

Yeah, Bill Clinton and Obama gave great speeches, too.  I can only hope it doesn't work against the Democratic Party that its people are so smart.

Someone commented on a show I was watching (unfortunately, only carelessly):  Since when has being smart become a bad thing?

Is it that intelligence can be intimidating?  Is it that we have seen too many James Bonds fighting against too many evil geniuses?

Genius can be good, and so can geniuses!

In fact, the most intelligent people are invariably going to be  interested in the highest good, because evil is by nature self-destructive.  (Some would probably say by definition - after all, acts that hurt others makes society mad at you.  Behavior that makes society mad at you is self-destructive!)

Sure, you can be intelligent and sociopathic, but there are lots more well-meaning smart people than there are malevolent ones.

And who says smarts can only be intellectual?  They can be spiritual, too!

When Obama spoke the other night, I looked closely and anxiously at him for any sign of overweening pride or arrogance.

I didn't see one.  Wow, Barack Obama!



August 29, 2008                                   Valparaiso, IN

The plant hybridizers have been going wild for the last few decades.  I first realized how much fun they were having when a friend of mine persuaded me to buy some iris rhizomes with her in the late nineteen seventies.  Schreiners' Iris Gardens sell their rhizomes for half price if you buy enough of them, and I agreed to spend ten dollars.

Well, I lived in Santa Fe for the next twenty-odd years and learned what wonderful dreams hybridizers have.  I never saw so many sizes, shapes and colors of blossoms.  Every May was Christmas as far as I was concerned!

When I finally surfaced from the world of child-rearing enough to put up my head and look around, what do you know?  The daylily people were doing the same thing.  And, amazingly enough - well everybody.

Of course hybridization of roses and other plants has been going on for centuries.  I just never thought much about it.

It's been going on with us people, too (and evidently with squirrels.  Right as I started this sentence I saw a little squirrel out my window that has a good deal more brown in it than most of the gray squirrels that seem to have taken over the area since I was a girl.  A hybrid?  Maybe.)

I like to joke about how I am a typical American mongrel.  More of us are hybrids than not, whether we know it or not.  And just as the hybridizers occasionally come up with a really outstanding bloom, so does our human race manage to produce a specimen now and then that combines much of the best of our varieties.

Maybe the best traits of Americans - our ingenuity and our variety of approaches to solving problems and our energy - maybe all these are a direct result of our hybrid vigor.

Another thing almost all United States residents have in common is that they or their ancestors (including those of our indigenous native Americans) had the courage to leave where they were to get here.

That's not easy!  Never downplay the adventure of the spirit that dares to do that!

People in America, of course, are always going on about the greatness of America.  Maybe other countries go on that way, too, about themselves.  I don't know.  I know some people pride themselves on their racial purity.

I don't know why.  Not only is it false pride (since they are not responsible for the circumstances of their birth and probably aren't really so "pure") but they have the flaws of their type magnified.  Who wants to be a purebred cocker spaniel with hip problems or a race horse with vulnerable ankles?

Let's hear it for hybrid vigor!  We mongrels can pat ourselves on the back without breaking our arms!



August 28, 2008                                  Valparaiso, IN

Well, I must have sumkind of imagination!  The kind where two and two equals five!  I saw a replay of Bill Clinton's "I love you" mouthings on Jay Leno last night and maybe Clinton didn't look down at all!  He hardly paused!  Well, my basic report was true, but maybe it's just as well I never was a journalist.

Clinton did a good job last night!  So did Biden but I confess I fell asleep.  I attribute that to the lateness of the hour, though.

Except I managed to watch Jay Leno interviewing Bill Maher later.  I am really impressed with him usually, and of course it is always fun to listen to his take on things.

I knew a woman years ago who told me that a person needs brains, heart and balls in equal proportion.  Maher has all those.

Now I have to add the funny bone.  Don't forget the funny bone!  Maher has that, too!

Maybe the funny bone is the most important thing to have!  

August 27, 2008                                    Valparaiso, IN

Well, Wow to Hillary Clinton, too.  These women are incredible.  I am so pround of them!

I'm not alone, evidently.  While Bill Clinton was looking at Hillary, he mouthed the words, "I love you.  I love you I love you I love you."

After the first time I wasn't sure that was what he said.  He looked down.  Then, as if he realized the cameras had caught him he looked up again and said it three more times, as if to say, I don't care who knows it, and I'll say it again!  Right here in front of God and everybody!

I often see people on television with their mouths working.  I can't read lips well, so I don't know what they are saying and I wonder what they are saying.  I wonder if they realize that the thousands (?) of people in the country who do know the language of lip-reading know what they are saying.  Maybe they are aware and are even measured in what they say without a microphone in front of them.

The power of lip-reading was illustrated in an episode of Monk but most people still don't get it, including me, I suppose.  After all, most of us are not used to being observed all the time.

Bill Clinton is.  Still, I know we all got to witness a genuine spontaneous response from him.

Bill loves Hillary. 

After that speech, so do I!

And Michelle Obama, too!

If their husbands do as well as they did, I'll love them, too!



August 26, 2008                                    Valparaiso, IN

Michelle Obama.  Wow.

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