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Rumilluminations Jan 2009
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sat, January 03 2009 - 5:15 pm

January 31, 2009                           Valparaiso, IN

This week the Friends of the Library had one of their two or three gigantic book sales of the year.  People of all ages came.  I worked on Thursday afternoon and was surprised to see there were no boxes of books under the tables that needed putting on top.

Today I worked again - the last day of the big sale.  Again I was surprised when I got there at 12:20.  There were maybe one tenth of the books left at that time than there have been the Saturdays I have worked in the past.

Does it mean anything?  Is it a commentary on the state of the economy that we were almost completely cleaned out by four o'clock when we closed?  Okay, okay we did give bags of romance novels and a ton of National Geographics away, but still....  Those virtuous souls who come in to clean up on Monday (usually a heavy chore) will have next to nothing to do!  (Poor things!)

If the economy gets more people reading I am old-fashioned enough to think that is a good thing!  How are the used-book sales in your community going?

January 30, 2009                           Valparaiso, IN

Ha, ha!  Everybody jokes about lemmings running over the cliffs to the ocean below and their own self-destruction.  Little did we know that Wall Street was a bunch of self-absorbed lemmings!

I used to read Emma Lathen's mysteries about a banker who was very much in tune with the real world.  It turns out that President Bush, condemned for the insularity of his world, was plugged in compared to the financial community of our country.

A senator today is calling them idiots.  I was not so generous.  I thought they were being greedy and evil and lacking in empathy with their fellow man.

I turns out that they are only deaf, blind and dumb, and don't even know of the existence of their fellow men!  Maybe the election of President Obama does not mean, as we all thought, that humans of every type are equal before the law.  Because none of us lower beings, it seems, has any existence at all except as producers of numbers (of $$$) in the same way that plants produce oxygen and cows produce methane.

Watch out, Wall Street!  The "barbarians" overran Rome, and without the average citizenry of the U.S., you collapse.

The senator is right.  They're idiots.  If the American public can be blamed for any of this, it is only that we took care of business and so very naively assumed that these people making six- and seven-figure salaries would do likewise.  (What's the phrase?  "Enlightened self-interest?"  Ha, ha, ha!

Somebody better turn on the lights!) 

January 29, 2009                           Valparaiso, IN

I am traumatized.  Did you ever read Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe?  Remember what was (to me) the most memorable part of the book, Eliza crossing the Ohio River on ice (partly floes, as I recall) to freedom, her child in her arms?

That was a true story!  That was not fiction.  Even the first name of the character, Eliza, is her true name.  I will be writing about the book in which I found this fact within the next few days in Book Butterflies, if you are interested in knowing more.

Why am I traumatized?  Well, what is truth and what is fiction?

I heard about a patron of our book sale room who likes old history books because he thinks history is being "rewritten" all the time.  In a twisted way, we must infer he means.

Of course history is rewritten all the time, from more and more distance and perspective.  Whether you think it is more or less accurate is up to you, I guess.

But I read Uncle Tom's Cabin when I was an innocent, and I thought it was fiction,.

Now I am beginning to think that the lines between fiction and nonfiction are so blurred, why bother with the distinction at all?

(I know, I know, practical considerations....)

January 28, 2009                          Valparaiso, IN

When I spoke the other day about not understanding the objections to the stimulus package, I had not heard about how disappointing it was with regards to funding infrastructure.  Originally, I thought it was supposed to be mostly about rebuilding our bridges and subway systems and all the things that need to be renewed - many of which never have been restructured in over one hundred years!  (And which were not designed to begin with for the use they have since endured!)  Of course, I am disappointed that the funding for that essential stuff has been so small in this package.  Better luck next year, perhaps?

Just watching Chris Matthews:  where does that dinosaur Armey get off telling another guest that he is "glad" she is "not his wife"??!???  And he wasn't kidding!  Of course, she responded, "That makes two of us."  But, honestly, how unprofessional can you get?  I hope all his female constituents watched him on that segment and never vote for him again! 

The very next guest paused in answering Chris Matthews' next question to chastise Armey for his egregious behavior, so I almost didn't write about it here.  He took the words right out of my mouth.

But then I decided I didn't want to miss a chance to speak out about it.  Guys, if there is ever a lame comment to make about a woman, it is that you are glad she is not your wife.

She doesn't care!  Nobody cares!  Probably nobody wants to be your wife, especially not your wife!  Keep personal comments out of Matthews' (and our) valuable discussion time.

January 27, 2009                             Valparaiso, IN

Literally years ago, I promised to tell you some of my weird wacky imaginings.  I didn't want to spill them all at once, so I didn't "report" them all.  Then, of course, I forgot what I had written about and what I still had to tell.

The biggest one in my mind is my story about my weird laundry day.

One day when I was at the laundromat doing laundry, I saw a wiry older Native American man with a big gold choker an inch wide set with a turquoise (I think.)  He was smoking a cigarette.

I thought of Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan and wondered if Carlos had given him an incredible gift or made him rich after the success of his books.

I put the clean laundry from a couple of my loads into my basket and left the laundromat.  As I went through the door, he was looking at me and I directed a thought towards him:  "Quit smoking and I'll follow you."

A ridiculous thought.  I had three small children and wasn't planning on going anywhere.  And it would be like the rich man saying to Jesus, "Don't make me give up my riches and I will follow you," or worse yet, "Get rich and I'll follow you!"

As I hung the wet laundry up on my clothesline, there were crows or ravens wheeling low in the sky above me.  I pictured them as Don Juan and a friend maybe checking me out.

Chore done, I reentered the laundromat and again encountered the gaze of my could-be spiritual mentor.  He was puffing on his cigarette like crazy!

I laughed, removed the rest of my family's clothes from the washing machines, and walked three doors down the street to my home.

Nobody followed anybody! 

January 26, 2009                            Valparaiso, IN

The Chinese use river as an image for chi - energy.  It is not a good thing when the stream dries up or even if it gets too sluggish, because the river spreads life both within and on itself, and in its potential to water plant life.

Our bodies are similar.  Exercise is not this sterile, theoretical thing like a gold star given for so many hours of study or practice.  Exercise keeps our internal river - our bloodstream - moving, bringing corpuscles ("fish" that feed and protect our cells) and lifegiving water to all parts of our physical being.

Maybe our country is in the physically moribund state it is in because we ourselves have been too sluggish.  Of course we move - but in containers and/or mores that prevent us from interacting with others.  Maybe if we would all move around more - stir the pot - it would create the interchanges we need to lift the depression and get our economy moving again.

After all, what makes the river move?  What makes the blood in our bodies return from the heart-given surge?

Not just the flow itself! 

January 25, 2009                               Valparaiso, IN

Speaking of space, I guess, being the Queen of Introspection, I should emphasize the space within and the escape it provides.  Hey, whatever you can get!

Is that what provides humorists what they need to be funny?  It seems to me that earnest people (me included) are right there in the front of their face behind their eyes.

Humorists, on the other hand, have an inner space from which to view what is going on.  That's not to say it is necessarily a healthy space.  It might be created of desperation, a survival instinct (this comment inspired by a book I'm reading right now - I'll write about it in Book Butterflies when I'm finished).  Jay Leno seems to have been motivated by external considerations - trying to make his mom happier.

Leno says on his show he doesn't get depressed.  Lucky man!  Living in sunny southern California probably helps, but still....

Anyway, now I'm interested in what drives funny men.  One comedian talked about comedy as complaining, which seems to me anger-driven, or at the very least, indignation-driven.

God grant me the inner space to have peace, or, at the very least, be funny once in a while!

January 24, 2009                              Valparaiso, IN

Last year I met a woman whose fiancee, years ago, was killed by a drunk driver.  She never married.  When it came time for her to retire, she was working at her job in the hospital, bringing meals to the man who killed her fiancee.

It was very traumatic for her, but she tried to be Christian about it and give him good service.  Finally, on her last day, she mentally put her foot down and asked someone else to take him his meal.

She seemed to feel a little bit guilty about it.

I was wondering how her life would have gone if she had left her small town and gone somewhere else.  Would the memories have stayed so vivid for her?  At least she would have been less likely to be confronted with the person who had done her so much wrong!

And what does that say about me?  Am I unwilling to forgive?  I don't think so, but having lived in many different places the past doesn't resonate so strongly with me.  (My sisters would say that isn't true!)

When did the concept of forgiveness start evolving?  Why has it been promoted so much?  Forgiveness does seem more important as a social coping mechanism in small circles than bigger ones.

I do believe forgiveness is good for one's own spirit.  But how much is forgiveness emphasized to protect those in power?

Are we supposed to forgive the corporation execs who have taken advantage of the American taxpayer?  Are we supposed to forgive the people of power who torture other humans in our names?

This hasn't been one big nasty idea, it has been more like one long slow side into cynicism.  Ha, ha!

As far as I'm concerned, time isn't the only thing that heals all wounds.  Space does, too!

January 23, 2008                             Valparaiso, IN

I don't understand the problems with the government spending proposal.  From what I have heard of the objections, they seem idiotic.

What's wrong with spending money and giving away condoms?  Don't condom manufacturers deserve to make a living?  Maybe more condoms now will mean fewer unemployed people twenty years from now!  (That's what Freakonomics said, anyway.  (Actually they said abortions.  Doesn't everybody agree condom use is better than abortion?  Don't try to make me feel sorry for abortion doctors!  They have a lot of other kinds of medicine to practice!)

Another objection is that some of the money would be reserved to spend in two years.  Well, duh.  Some of the huge projects we would spend the money on will take more than two years!  I hope people aren't saying we should pay for those projects in advance!

If we do, I guess a lot of construction managers will get luxury bathrooms!

And I love all the Republican moaning and groaning about the Democrats waging class warfare!  If there are class wars going on, it is the upper classes who are winning (and eating, and going to the doctor!)

Spare me.

January 22, 2009                          Valparaiso, IN

If I'm the Queen of Introspection, I kind of wonder what other kingdoms there are out there.

I think Rush Limbaugh is probably the King of Spite.

Obama must be the King of Cool.  It disturbs me to hear people say, "If he can be President, then anyone can."

Well, no.  This man is not even one in a million.  He, right now, is one in 300,000 million and I don't think it is an accident.

More and more I am coming to the conclusion rather humbling for a Queen of Introspection:  what we are externally may not be all important, but neither is what we are internally.

We can do a lot to change what we are like internally, I believe.  We can help ourselves become more generous, more internally beautiful.

The external is something else.  Sure, we can change a lot.  But a lot of those attributes people call "God-given" are very real and very permanent.

Inevitably, they will sometimes work for us and sometimes against us.  Knowing which will happen when - well, good luck with that one!

January 21, 2009                                Valparaiso, IN

I've never witnessed a Presidential Inauguration before, even via TV.

Reasons?  Probably, successively and/or concurrently, no interest, school, no TV, work.

What struck me yesterday was the language of those brief oaths.  The Vice President and President did not swear to protect the country, the government in toto, or even the People.

They swore to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United states.

No wonder Bush's attitude and speech over the last eight years have seemed like so much patronizing blather and palaver!  He was acting paternalistic (notice I didn't say "paternal."  We the people don't want a pig daddy (see transactional analysis) or even a genuine "daddy" (ha, ha.))  We want people who will uphold our Constitution!

I have a feeling that Obama, the former constitutional law professor, and Biden will do so.  I'm also pretty sure that their doing so will, not just coincidentally, be the best way to protect the government, the country, and us citizens! 

January 20, 2009                          Valparaiso, IN

We now have a new President.  I have heard that Presidents age twice as fast as the rest of us.  So, let's see.  I am sixty-one now, and Obama is forty-eight or -nine, I believe.  That means that he is only a dozen or so years younger than me.  So a lot of these very young women are screaming over someone old enough to be their father.  He is definitely not young enough to be my son!  (Well, maybe, if I lived and grew up in a very different circle!)

By the above standard of aging, in four years I will be sixty-five and he will be about fifty-six!  Why do people talk as if he is such a different generation?  By some assessments, he is almost a baby boomer himself!

His values are ones that I grew up with as far as racial equality, equality for women (I read The Feminine Mystique in high school) and even hard work (although mine seemed to be cleaning house and mowing the lawn and studying.)  Not so very different.

To tell the truth, I'm kind of surprised at how he resonates with young people.  Did they hear the hard work part of his success?

It's something I've been wondering about lately.  Do the young of this country feel that hard work is something they have to do, or do they see themselves as above it?  Do they see themselves as only worth something if their hard work doesn't get their hands dirty or create sweat?

I hope not.

I hope people realize that any work they can get is worth doing, especially if they have a mortgage to pay!  It takes all kinds of work to make a viable economy, and as the present state of our economy shows, we need products as well as paper pushers.

One thing that struck me about the debt of gratitude President Obama expressed for all the people who have died for the United States, is that as many as those deaths have been, they are nowhere near as many as we would have had if we had a civil war every time there was a transfer of power.

Yay, America!  Long live the United States!  

January 19, 2009                             Valparaiso, IN

This year it is in Valparaiso, as if Mother Nature is trying to work very hard on undoing our trespasses against her creations.  She has been casting down snow, and we have been "cleaning" it up.

Now it is as if she is say, "I keep dusting all that ugly old winter vegetation with beautiful curvy white and those creepy little insects keep messing it up with tunnels and mountains tinged with dirty gray and messy slush!  Well, this time I'm going to stay ahead of all that "human" graffiti!  Whoosh!"

And down here below, we are learning a new saying:  Pride goeth before a snowfall!

Later:  While I was shoveling snow I looked up at the sky (it brightened a little?) and found myself looking straight at the disc of the sun.  It was pale yellow, surrounded by a patch of pale blue, then clouds.  With snow-covered pine clumps setting it off on one side and winter branches on the other, I couldn't resist taking another glance or two at the wonderful sight.  Gone in two seconds.

Hmmm.  Snowing again.  Ho-hum!

January 17, 2009                                Valparaiso, IN

I wrote something different here earlier today, but I decided it belonged in Nano Stories the Second.

Why is the Internet called the Internet?  Trying to find the derivation of "amaze" I decided the internet should be called a maze.  So many dead ends!  Or is that just my lack of expertise?

I gave up trying to find a derivation for "amaze" this late at night and looked up maze instead.  I figured one comes from the other.  But when you are really amazed are you really out of the maze?  Or away from the maze?  Maybe you are still out of the maze of understanding the phenomenon you are contemplating!

The only derivation I saw for "maze" came from Iceland, "masa" which means chatter.

Well, bloggers on the internet are called the chattering classes, right?  So that would fit with this phenomenon we are dealing with being more like a maze than a web or net.

Well, sleepiness is going to be the thread I follow to get out of this one!

January 16, 2009                                    Valparaiso, IN

Oh, I'm so sorry, Sarah Palin!  I'm sorry I'm such a bored and lonely blahger that I can't find anything else to do but laugh at you, in between stints of shoveling snow!

Oh, yeah, and in between stints of laughing (through my tears) at President Bush!  Yeah - no, that's too complicated, the slurry of emotions I feel about Bush.  It's kind of like one of the younger adults' popular music mixes, except instead of being all favorite feel-good things he's all bad mess-up-my-country-and-the-world least favorite things!

So, sorry Sarah, you are It!  My chief source of pure mirth in this world!  Pout and whine all you want!  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

The only way you can stop us from laughing at you is to shut up and go away.  Why don't you?  I'm sure all of us will survive!

Wow, it just occurred to me.  There's another "at least I don't live in" state.  Alaska!  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Except wait - can this be?  It is 46 degrees Fahrenheit in Alaska!  I wish I were in Alaska - boo hoo hoo hoo hoo!

Ha, ha, Sarah!  You should try laughing at yourself!  It's fun!

January 15, 2009                                      Valparaiso, IN

Today the world looks blue and white and gray and I am going to look at it from the window.

I do have to go outside to put out the recycling for tomorrow morning.  I have scheduled this chore for 3:00 p.m., when the high temperature for the day is attained:  0 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is the coldest whether (which I am choosing not to experience, thank you) I have had outside-my-doors since the 1960's.

There are a couple of inches of snow on the sidewalk, but I shoveled snow four times yesterday and that is enough.  There are people who have to venture out today:  a friend of ours has to go to the dentist, I just saw a UPS truck drive by, and I'm pretty sure the postman will bring us our mail.

But you know, I for one won't blame him if he puts it off 'til tomorrow!

January 14, 2009                      Valparaiso, IN

Jay Leno mentioned quite a while ago that he used his own sources of energy to supply power for his garage(s) and I got curious.  How did he do it?  I forgot.

It occurred to me he might have some info about it on his website, and sure enough, he does.  I clicked on "Green" and saw a video he made about it.  Mostly he has panels of solar cells on the roof of the huge building, but he also has a little windmill (not of the usual blace configuration, but more of a cylindrical shape) for power when the sun isn't shining.

There isn't much sun on our property and there are a lot of trees, so we couldn't rely too much on solar energy, but I sure like the idea of generating some of our own electricity with some cute little windmills all in a row!

I bet the Ukraine is wishing they had more alternative power right now.  And I kind of like the idea of being free from the bullying and power plays of any energy supplier!

I've seen exercise machines that generate power on TV recently, too.  The only trouble is, I like to take my exercise outside in the beautiful world.

Oh, Jay Leno also had some neat gizmos on hand for doing stuff like for washing car parts with microbes and cutting metal parts with water!  Awesome.

January 13, 2009                       Valparaiso, IN

One of Jesus' parables is about a man who hires day laborers to work for him, including one who comes to the job late in the day.  The employer gives them all the same amount of money at the end of the day, inspiring grumbling among those who worked all day for the same recompense.

It is interesting that nobody would dream of taking this as a literal example of hiring practices.  Working unsalaried people are pretty much working by the hour, and get paid accordingly.  This parable is usually interpreted as being about salvation.

But what if the parable is actually applicable to other situations?  For instance, if someone moves into your town and joins your class in high school, how should she be treated?  If someone moves into your town or state as an adult, does his late arrival mean he should have any fewer rights or considerations than those who have been there all their lives?  Does the fact that he is a newcomer mean that he should be treated as an outsider and have doors shut in his face?  

January 12, 2009                        Valparaiso, IN

Madoff the Ponzi scheme runner is still out on bail after trying to shower friends and relatives with millions of dollars in checks and jewelry after his arrest.

I've heard of a black teenager getting three years for stealing an ice cream bar.

People can get in trouble for unintentionally buying a stolen TV or bike!  Why do we let the families and friends of people who are arrested for financial crimes get off scot-free?  Isn't it obvious in many cases that they knew what they were getting was "hot?"

If Madoff had succeeded in mailing off his checks to friends after his arrest and they accepted the money, wouldn't they be responsible for accepting stolen goods?

Nowadays women are able to get jobs and support themselves.  They are serving in the armed forces.  Isn't it about time that they concerned themselves with the sources of their income, even if someone else is earning it?

Just a thought.  I must admit I would not like to be held criminally responsible for a non-financial act performed by a spouse or child.

Where do we draw the line?  What do you think?

If women start getting arrested for accepting ill-gotten goods, would that curtail the activities of other husbands tempted to work outside the law?  Would these men think of the peril to their families, and abstain from illegal activities?

I'm inclined to think not.  I think people who steal on a grand scale are even more driven and insane than petty offenders.

If the solution to a Madoff is not to jail him (yet), can we at least go a little more easy on the little guys?  I'm not much into paying $30,000 of taxpayer money to jail someone for a $5,000 theft.  And what about the punishment having some proportion to the magnitude of the crime?

After all, what's sauce for the sparrow should be sauce for the pheasant!  Or peacock.  Ostrich.  Whatever.  Grrrrrr........

January 11, 2009                         Valparaiso, IN

Last night on the news the announcers said to take a look at the moon.  The broadcast was from Chicago, and I wondered if they could see the moon - evidently it was supposed to be very, very bright.  (My ears perked up, but I missed the explanation why.)

It looked cloudy outside to me, but I moved into another room to look at where the moon was supposed to be.  I didn't see the moon, but I saw one of the whitest night skies ever.  Sure, the clouds were reflecting city lights and the snow on the ground was bouncing it back ad infinitum like a heavy tennis match, but it was more than that.  I had never seen such a white night sky.

After I left Corvallis, OR on Dec. 30 I realized that I had not seen the moon once for the two weeks I had been there.  Forget the stars!  No wonder the Aboriginal Northeastern Americans did not develop astronomy!  (I know, I know, even those folks probably weren't yet in North America then.)

This morning at 8 the sky was only incrementally brighter than it had been last night at 10:15.

I wish I could have seen that bright, bright moon, but the enlightened night was impressive enough.  It was way more cheering than some darkening dismal late afternoons I've known!

P.S.  I just talked to my neighbor and he said the moon looks 13% or 14% bigger and also brighter because it is in the perigee (closest point) of its eliptical path around the earth and it is also full.  Whoopee!  Tonight won't be quite the same show, but maybe it will still look really good.  Brave the cold and hope for a clear sky so we can see the magical moon!


January 10, 2009                              Valparaiso, IN

I guess I'm not done with Bush yet.  I have played Scrabble with a couple of people who stopped playing with me when it got to the point where it looked like I might beat them (or win more games than they.)  Maybe it is just ego.

But Bush can't keep the Obamas out of the White House - not legally, anyway.  So what does he do?  He keeps them out of Blair House.  A friend of mine remarked, "Why say no to the Obamas?  He could have done his guest (the former Ambassador from Australia, I believe) a really big honor by saying, 'Hey, why don't you come over to the White House and spend your visit here?  You can sleep in the Lincoln bedroom!' "  Who would object to that invitation?

According to MSNBC there was no scheduled visit at Blair House for the time the Obamas requested to come (I presume to arrive in Washington in time for their daughters to start the second semester of school with the other children) at the time they requested to come.

Keeping the Obamas cooling their heels elsewhere is not a very smart move, I don't think.  Doesn't the whole story remind you a little of "no room at the inn?"

Okay, okay, maybe it is spite against a winning Democrat, not racism.  But you have to wonder how much a person's lack of racism (or sexism) depends on being one-up in standing with relation to the other person.

Whatever your motive, George W., try to at least keep it legal.  And try not to squander too much of the taxpayers' dollars in the next ten days!

I know how easy it is to spend a lot of money in a short amount of time!

January 9, 2009                                Valparaiso, IN

Now I am beginning to get really angry.  Congress managed to support the killing of a bunch of people (including some of our own) in Iraq to the tune of millions (billions?  I forget) of dollars.  They supported - no questions asked - the bailout of banks and financial markets to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars more.

Now Bush has added insult to injury by refusing to allow the Obamas into Blair House, which has over a hundred rooms, because one man happens to be temporarily housed there.  This is not just an insult to the Obamas, I hear on MSNBC.  It also necessitates a big security bill to us taxpayers because the Hyatt (?) Hotel is not in the same zone of security as Blair House.

And Congress is acting like it is going to drag its feet when it comes to supporting the President's stimulus package!

I used to think Bush was merely stupid.  Now I think he is positively petty and spiteful.  What does Laura Bush think of this latest move?  She is supposed to be so nice!  Only eleven days left!  I can hardly wait!

What gives with Congress?  Why are they so hesitant?  The only way we are going to get out of this miserable deficit is by getting  back on our feet financially.

I don't get it.  Are we really ruled by fools?

I guess we are.

Oh well.  At least I don't live in Illinois! 

January 8, 2009                               Valparaiso, IN

It amuses me somewhat that the Iraqis want the "foreigners" (or the Arabic equivalent) out of their country.  I'm not amused by the fact that we are there.  I wish we weren't.

I am amused because in Iraq it seems as if everybody is a foreigner.  The various religions and tribes treat each other like foreigners.

What is one group more or less to a nationless group of people who can't recognize their own common interest?

Shiite, Sunis, I couldn't tell them apart, I assure you.  But they certainly can!  And they will never be one country until they pull together and decide upon a common good that they all work toward.  Just getting rid of the non-Muslim foreigners in their midst will not make them whole.

I would like to say, until they treat their women as equals they cannot be whole.  But the Muslim women I have met seem to want to defend their way of life, so I won't say that.

But the I Ching talks about blaming and picking fights with someone externally when/because you yourself are not united internally.  Iraq reminds me of that.

Good luck, Iraq, unifying and healing yourself!

January 7, 2009                              Valparaiso, IN

I have a friend who says, "a barking dog is an unhappy dog."  (Just now I googled it and only got four responses.  Guess this isn't exactly common knowledge!)

I'm going to transpose that to people.  (Well, me.)  If I am happy, I don't complain nearly as much.  (Well, not at all, actually.  I don't feel like it!)  In my life (one long complaint, it sometimes feels like!) there have been kind people who have tried to help me resolve whatever my lousy situation at the time.

The best stuff I have heard from them:

Don't make nothing of yourself.  (Myron Berkson, my shrink.)

Half measures to ease the stress is better than no action at all.  (e.g. Want to get away from a certain relationship?  Give yourself a little space.  Can't stand your job?  Cut back on your hours or stand up for yourself more while there.  Like that.)  (My friend and one of my heroines for many years, Marke Talley.)

Love yourself if no one else seems to.  Give yourself time, pleasure, little presents.  Somehow these little measures seem to grow into bigger well-being.  (Or maybe the kids just grow up, ha ha!  Sorry, kids.  Or maybe you just get that divorce!  (No apologies there!))  (Women's magazines.  Poor men - they just have magazines about guns and hunting and sex.)

But that's not where I was heading when I started writing this.  I've been off my form lately, and if I have to get bratty to get back in it, well so be it.

Oh, and by the way:  just because a dog isn't barking doesn't mean he's happy!  A grouchy, silent, resentful angry dog scares me more!


January 6, 2009                                 Valparaiso, IN

Maybe I should do more verbal meandering!  As soon as I wrote down that word, I noticed it had "mean" in it.  Well, I wonder.  Is that mean as it spiteful, or mean as in moderate?  I suppose I could look it up, but then I would have to stop meandering.

Is meandering like being in a fugue state?  So is meandering like a musical fugue?  Or like fugit as in tempus fugit time is flying by?  If you are trying to flee (be fleet) maybe it is better not to meander!  Unless you are meandering through water, which may help you!  Gulp!  (Not water, though!)  The tempus is merely meandering through the New Year, not fuguing as far as I can tell.

Happy Epiphany!  Hope I haven't inspired any profanity!

Sigh.  It's late in the day...  dark even.  Ha, ha, that's a pun, too!

January 5, 2009                           Valparaiso, IN

You may have noticed that I am having trouble turning the page of the calendar over into a new year.

Last year was, for me, a pretty good one!  I was in no hurry to leave.

Alas, it left me.  This year looks like it might be a pretty good one too, though.  (This understatement is, of course, fear of disappointment.)

It is an eternal conflict with mankind, I guess, whether or not to enjoy our own good fortune when others are going through misery.  Some very sensitive people can't, I guess, and while I admire their empathy I can't envy or emulate them.

I have had bad years.  One year, especially (well more than one when I come to think about it) I hope I never have to repeat.  But I certainly wouldn't have wanted the rest of mankind to be miserable just because I was!

My life wouldn't be what I would call charmed.  But compared to those at war or in extreme poverty it would certainly seem to be.

Why are people always surprised and shocked that civilians are hurt by war?  Hasn't it always been like that?  Isn't it inevitable?  And tell me, how many people are hurt by war compared with the number who benefit?

I'm not going to say that all wars are bad, because maybe they serve the overall good over the long term.  Supposedly there are "good wars."  But aren't those wars just necessary because someone has been very, very bad?

Ah well, perhaps I should make a New Year's resolution against verbal meandering!

January 4, 2009                           Valparaiso, IN

I think my New Year's Resolution this year is to laugh more.  That should be easy!  After all, isn't it just a matter of exposing myself to more funny stuff?

But also, I'm going to try to laugh at more ordinary experiences.

Isn't it funny when someone complains about complainers?

When someone judges someone else for being too judgmental?

When they are burned up about something burning on the stove?

I'm especially desirous to tickle my own funnybone.  Laughing at myself gets easier all the time!

And when someone else manages to finally get my goat and I get angry, I'm going to try to think, "How pathetic!  What a silly thing to get mad about!  That's really funny!  Ha ha ha ha!"

Who wants to be perfect when you can be tickled by your own imperfections?

Crazy, huh?  Ha ha ha ha ha.....  Funnybone power!

January 3, 2009                            Valparaiso, IN

Yesterday in Nebraska I saw a bald eagle for the first time in my life.  He can't have been sitting higher than ten feet off the ground.  He was unmistakable, and I was really excited.  I saw him without even searching for him!

Last night I had a wonderful dream:  I had told an acquaintance about a program a good man had started in order to benefit children.  Without telling me, my acquaintance gave the altruistic gentleman a large donation towards his cause.  I remember feeling really happy about it when I heard about it later.

Were the eagle sighting and the dream related?  Maybe not, but I like to think they were.  Somehow the eagle in our American mind (maybe native American, too) is related to power and blessings:  the power to confer blessings, maybe - if only in dreams!

Now I'm trying to remember.  Did I have any special dreams after seeing those ten wild turkeys last week?  We all know one big blessing turkeys bestow!  (But I know another - I used to use a big turkey tail feather to wipe out my oboe after playing.)

Maybe I'll start watching my dreams after every wild sighting! 

January, 1, 2009                                Denver, CO

This morning my mom reported having a dream about my sister and me dancing.  She said no more about it, and I wondered how she felt in her dream.  I asked, "Was it a nightmare?  How did you feel while you were dreaming it?"

Her response:  "I can have a happy nightmare!"

We laughed out loud.  "Talk about an oxymoron," my sister remarked.

Ha, ha.  I think it was very amusing, but I still wonder.  How did my mom feel about us dancing in her dream?

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