By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Fri, April 01 2011 - 7:36 pm
April 30, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Last day of April! My last chance to play the fool (I wish, er, or thank heavens it's not!)
More foolish religious speculation.
Dad says, "God says so." That has gigantic impact on son or daughter.
Siblings say, "Dad says so." This has some impact on younger sisters and brothers.
I bet it's also a source of great confusion. Did he really? What's the truth? Do we have to listen or not?
One of my favorite sayings by Judge Judy is, "I'm confused. And when I'm confused then I know that someone isn't telling me the truth."
Nobody is more confused than followers of religion, many of which encourage their followers to be fruitful and multiply.
What conclusion am I drawing?
I'm not fool enough to tell you! Ha, ha, ha!
April 29, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
I'm trying to figure out the psychology of religion (that's all! Perhaps more April folly.)
It really does seem, though, that the promise of religion (these days this usually means a heavenly father) is more comfort than the promise of the universe.
I'm trying to figure out why.
The Four Stages of Man, if I recall correctly, talks about the context the mother supplies to the baby being supplanted by the context the father supplies - which is to introduce the child into the larger world.
But if the father (or a substitute father) supplies to the child not the real world, but a subset of the real world (such as a closed religious community or Neo-Nazi community) isn't he misleading the child, even if his intentions are good?
The universe doesn't seem to care. Religion offers a heavenly father even bigger and more powerful than the individual's own who will take care of things. (Maybe not him or her personally, but "things.")
What a stress reliever that is! "Thy will be done."
But the motivator for the turning over of power to God seems to be largely fear. Fear of death, fear of hell, fear of what we will do to ourselves with the stress levels we will endure. Fear of ostracization from our society.
Why do we have so much trouble simply submitting our fates to an impersonal universe? (Besides the unfortunate fact that the impersonal universe will force us to fend for ourselves?)
After all, we really are not alone. There is a whole society of people structured to help each of us as individuals keep going, whether we can really feel it or not.
And I guess that is the key. How do we feel? How do I feel?
And the unfortunate fact is that we seem to prefer an imaginary friend (didn't I see a movie lately that called God an imaginary friend?) to no powerful personal friend at all.
If I say (to myself, evidently!) "Thy will be done" I can relax. The stress levels lower. I can quit drinking or smoking or worrying about my health or whatever else my personal demons are - not in the future, but in the present.
My personal responsibility becomes nil. I can relax.
So then, during the rest of the twenty-four hours, I can pick up the load of responsibility and succeed in doing what I could not do "without God's help."
That's some imaginary friend!
Take a deep breath. "Ohhhhhmmmm...."
Whew. I've gotten that off my chest! Now maybe I can go back to sleep.
If the almighty Robin of the Universe (I'm talking about a real live bird - might be Rooster to you!) will let me!
April 27, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
I feel another brat attack coming on.
Must be the time of day.
Failed to write anything worthwhile in the a.m.?
Well, maybe that is what p.m. essing is all about!
Why do we say "incurious" and not acurious or decurious?
Are in-crowds incurious?
Are introverts incurious instead of acurious or outcurious?
Is there no being excurious because the curious meet the fate of the curious cat?
Did I ever tell you about my male friend who said, "Sexual curiosity killed the sex kitten!"
Is ecurious not curious, or curiousity expressed via email?
How about procurious? Would that be exceptionally in favor of curiosity, or being of the nature to acquire something?
Would anticuriosity be found in denial?
Incuriousity would certainly be trumped by anticuriosity in the negative side of the curiosity continuum!
I'd like to procure more curiosity, please! Information eclipses incuriosity.
Or should that be proformation aclipses exscoriosity?
I better quit all this verbal deformation now or I will be tempted to exform this article!
Or would I be meaning protocol?
April 26, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
We don't understand the older generation (and at my age, there is only one older generation!)
They lived through the Depression and don't like to spend money, but they won't conserve.
They sacrificed in a big way for the war effort (that's World War II) but they won't sacrifice (or even recycle) to save the planet.
Is it because they've been there and done that? Or do they not care because they won't be here?
Okay, okay, I know. I'm generalizing. Just look at it as coping with Depression and being willing to conserve - words!
Ha, ha. But really - am I wrong? What have you observed in the older generation?
Are they lazy? (Their word to us growing up!) Lay Z? Have you ever noticed that a Z lying down is an N?
N for narcissistic? And I don't mean the flowers!
Do they just not care? Scary!
C'mon, older generation! Defend yourselves! Depend yourselves!
Well, I'm a brat of the first order, playing the fool in April while the sun sets and hail threats.
April 25, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
I'm depressed. It's heavy gray, rainy and gloomy outside.
It makes me wonder. In sunny New Mexico, where I was a young mother, I was an angry young mother.
Can the difference in barometric pressure account for different moods? Can it make the difference between anger being suppressed (resulting in depression) and anger being directed outward resulting in overt aggression?
Neither is, of course, the way to handle anger. My findings from my own experience are that the best way to handle anger, as all illness, is with prevention.
On the other hand, I don't think I am particularly angry now - except, perhaps - at the weather!
April 23, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
I said to my partner this morning, "The American Dream has turned into the American Scream."
Of course as soon as I said it I thought of the painting "The Scream" painted by Munch, who was not an American at all.
My partner thought of the same artist, but in an American version: a portrait of Uncle Sam as the silent screamer.
April 22, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Word to the wise to doctors and dentists:
Don't talk to your patients about your skiing trips and your three million dollar vacation homes.
Unless they go on skiing trips and own even a little vacation cabin themselves, that kind of talk probably pisses them off.
Especially if your fees are too high, which they probably are.
I'm not talking about any of my Valpo caregivers. They are either not rich enough to talk that way, or they are too smart.
I know at least a person or two who have left a doctor's practice because of this singular lack of tact.
Hey, I'm not talking about all professional caregivers, here. I had a great-aunt who was a Midwest doctor for fifty years without owning more than one home or going on a skiing trip.
But if the ski-boot fits, wear it!
April 21, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Reformation - church
Restoration - monarchy
Reforestation - high time!
Recrustacean - make it happen before it's too late! Shrimps and crabs unite!
Refloration - April, you better make it happen quick or May will get the honors this year!
Rechocolation - replenish the chocolate in your system every day!
Respiration - what you do when you have planted a tree, planted a flowering plant, contributed to the saving of offshore wildlife environments, and eaten a serving of dark chocolate - heave a big, contented sigh.
April 20, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
So yesterday I played the fool and read my horoscope. Foolish, because if you have a fairly settled life (at least for the time being) who needs to make decisions? So why read a horoscope? Well, yes, I know there are many whofeel that reading a horoscope is always foolish - but where was I?
Oh yes - I read my horoscope and it talked about making a "noble quest." Well, more fool's talk as Don Quixote could attest, but who is quixotic if not I?
Anyway, I was looking out the bathroom window while brushing my teeth and saw one of our western neighbor's dogs loose, sniffing around the house of our southern neighbors.
A little later he seemed to be trying to get back into his own (fenced) yard, playing bark-and-leap with his pal, the big gray Weimeraner.
Having finished brushing my teeth and thinking no one was home next door, I decided to help little doggy get into his yard. Living in the past, evidently, thinking the Weimeraner was still a young pup, I unlocked the gate for the little dog and promptly got bitten by the big one.
After that I thought it was rather courageous of me to have the guts to latch the gate again to keep the big one from lunging out, but maybe I just chose the lesser of two evils - a possible second bite on my forearm as opposed to him straddling me with his big lean doglegs and going for my neck!
I abandoned my attempt to rescue the little one from possible animal control arrest and went back home to nurse my wound and my failed rescuer's pride.
No skin broken, but I eventually noticed a tear in my new $60 (on sale!) cashmere hoodie.
Not only did I play the fool but received my fifth lifetime dogbite to boot!
And don't give me any crap that he sensed my fear. I wasn't afraid! It didn't occur to me that my neighbor dog, who has seen me countless times in the very next yard digging in our compost pile (and I might add, providing him with a veritable banquet of interesting smells) would feel it necessary to protect his plastic fence from my depredations!
This morning I had a fantasy that I was accused of trying to steal the dog.
My defense? A very good one, I think:
"If I had been trying to steal him away, I would have brought along a yummier meat-treat than my own scrawny forearm!"
April 19, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Saw a wonderful show last night about John Muir and how we are both spiritually nurtured by and part of Nature. He, for the most part, viewed nature as neutral. She sustains us, sure, but isn't too concerned about our comfort or even our health.
And how! The birds are not singing outside in the cold April damp, and neither are we.
No courting going on today with the birds. Imagine lifting up your beak to sing a glorious love song and having a bucketful of water sloshed into your face!
I often wonder how warm are the animals, still apparently hunkering in their fluffed-up fur and feathers.
I would like to think that nature has provided them with warmth enough, one way or another, but I'm not so sure.
After all, we human animals have added layer upon layer of artifacts to protect us from nature's worst!
April 18, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Yesterday I was at Target when I heard a young woman talking to a young man.
"I turned twenty-nine the other day, but I don't feel like it!"
Reminds me of when I was a little kid and people asked me how I felt to be, say, seven.
Like nothing. Yet I'm sure I have said it to one child at least once. It's just something adults say, but it has far-reaching ramifications.
When I hit twenty-one, do I feel grown up? (No, and neither does anyone else who has had a fortunate life!)
How about forty? I remember talking to a 41-year-old, graying at the temples, who told me he doesn't feel 41. I, forty myself at the time, did not have the heart to tell him he looked it.
Do I feel sixty-three? Not usually, but I have to admit sometimes getting out of bed in the morning I not only feel sixty-three, I'm acting sixty-three!
Blame it on the cold cruel April rain. Yeah, that stuff we have been told all our lives will bring the May flowers.
I guess I still feel young enough to believe it - if I'm not too old to see it!
April 16, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Come to a dance! We are having a contradance here in Valparaiso tonight, and there might be a dance near you.
Let April make a fool of you!
Let April have her cruel way with you!
My mother used to tell me to go out. "You'll have fun!" she would say.
And I usually did - even in April!
April 15, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
My mother once said to company about me, "She is one of those people who has to feel needed," as if it were a form of pathology.
Besides the fact that it isn't exactly true that I have to feel needed, she better hope that my partner and I feel needed. There is nothing other than that that would induce us to spend another winter here.
I would think that the desire to feel needed would be a good thing, though.
It's altruistic. It is putting others in a position of relative importance, even as compared with oneself.
Needing to feel needed is only something the extremely insecure would feel, I think.
What do you think? Do you want to feel needed? Do you have to feel needed?
And if the answer is yes, is that something that makes you an inferior being?
Oops! I hear someone calling my name. Perhaps I am needed!
April 13, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Yesterday at our book club meeting (about Ape House, which met with a surprising (to me) amount of criticism - I thought it was great fun!) a woman said she doesn't have a TV and doesn't miss it.
I can relate to that. I have had twenty-year segments of my life unmarred by the presence of a TV set in my home.
What I couldn't relate to during those years was my society. Changes in language flowed past me and I didn't know why. People would converse about shows they had seen and I could not contribute. (Some would be thankful for that!)
After I got a TV again, I made at least a token effort to see enough that I had some reference for the point of view of most of my fellow Americans. (Professional "wrestling" was quite a revelation!)
But these days? So what if you don't have a TV set? There is not a strong minority of people who are watching the same thing anyway. What with the Internet, who needs a TV set to keep au courant? You can watch news (and/or cute cat videos) on your computer.
Now - if you don't have a TV set or Internet access, that is another matter entirely!
For myself, I don't want to be so completely out of touch with the rest of my culture ever again.
April 11, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Do reserved people make you uncomfortable?
I didn't used to mind it when someone was reserved, but more and more it makes me wonder.
For one thing, it is hard to believe you are really interacting with a reserved person. What are they really thinking?
And why do they have so much a habit of keeping back, refraining from sharing?
Is it judgement? Do they follow the old adage, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all?"
Is it fear of the judgement of others?
Henry James seems to adore the quality in women, maybe not so much in men.
Perhaps people who like reserve in others would just as soon not know what they are thinking or feeling. In which case, in what way do they enjoy their company? Good looks?
The feeling I have come to experience from one who is reserved is the same facial expression and lack of involvement you might experience from someone riding in a cart through a throng.
Last night I dreamed I left a roomful of people and started packing. I indifferently tossed off the remark, "Go ahead and ride the good/bad cart if you want to!"
The people in the other room burst into laughter. They thought my remark witty.
That is one of the occasional rewards of a lack of reserve!
At least, in my dreams!
April 10, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
One of my all-year follies is that I hold the opinion that people should heed my advice.
Some of the worst mistakes people have made in their lives they have made in spite of my advice to the contrary. (Not following too closely in a car is a bit of advice I give and people do not follow.)
I have tried to figure out why people find it so easy to discount or downright ignore my advice. When I complained to a friend about this decades ago with regards to my children obeying, she said, "It's because you don't mean it!"
Well, yes I did mean it, but somehow I am not convincing.
I guess I can't blame anyone else for not taking me seriously.
Some of the worst mistakes I've made in my life, I've made because I didn't listen to myself!
April 9, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Finally! A warm day!
Yesterday we startled a squirrel on the compost heap. An ornamental squash I had placed there is now a hull. It looks like squash seeds have provided a few meals in the last month or so.
The scylla are so abundant they have even grown through most of the compost pile, but still don't manage to camouflage the pile. Empty pots and pots whose inhabitants didn't survive this harsh winter outside litter the yard, along with branches and workmen's leftover bits of wood.
Today was the best day yet this year and we took a long walk. Tomorrow if it is nice we will go on a bike ride.
But yard work looms. With these balmy days, there is no longer any excuse for not cleaning things up.
Meanwhile the neighbor has set up a trampoline with a net around it so his kids can bounce around without taking a fall to the ground.
I haven't seen that before!
April 8, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Today we saw our first goldfinch of the season.
Yesterday we saw a dozen cedar waxwings, also our first of the year, eating hawthorne berries.
I looked around the grass under the tree, but didn't see any drunken birds.
Why would I do something silly like that? Here's why:
The Father of American Square Dance, Lloyd Shaw, was a principal of a grade school. When he thought a class was getting dull and needed shaking up, he would go in, round up the children, and take them outside.
One of his students recalled a time he took her class outside and showed them a tree full of cedar waxwings. He picked up one of them who was insensible from the alcohol present in the fermenting berries it had eaten.
"See this?" he said. "This bird is drunk and helpless. I could do anything I wanted with it. That is what drinking too much alcohol will do to you."
Now that I am repeating the story, I wish I knew if he picked the bird up off the ground. Maybe it was just drunk in the tree and its reflexes kept its claws clamped around a branch. I don't know.
The bevy of cedar waxwings we saw yesterday certainly seemed buoyant, but I can't fairly accuse any of them of public intoxication!
April 7, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Let's see. I told a religious proselytizer we had our own church. I felt I was lying.
But on second thought, my mother considers herself a Christian. In all my growing up we went to Meeting a few times, but in those days there was no Quaker Meeting here, so she did not go.
After we left home she went to my Dad's (and her children's) church for a while, but I don't think that lasted for too long.
Maybe I should have said, we all have our own religion, but that would have not have reassured (or discouraged?) them. Too much room for argument in the word religion.
What is it about the word "church" that makes the difference?
Is it because it is physical? Does the weight of a physical edifice come down on the imaginations of the people on our doorstep and crush them?
Or is their real goal to make sure we are part of a spiritual community so that we will be connected, and therefore behave better? (Ha, ha! Look at the news! Look at history!)
On the other hand, I don't believe I have ever lied to the JWs before. Shocked them, yes. Concerned them at least superficially, I'm sure.
But actually lied? I'm sure I have just taken my first small step on the path to perdition!
I won't walk it long, though. The way is too cluttered up with all the Seven Deadly Sinners who have their own church.
I like space to breathe.
April 5, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Today it is still cold and partly cloudy.
That is the only explanation I have for what I did today.
A sole woman came to my door, and I thought, "Oh, no, she wants me to give money." Well, sometimes I do.
But no, it was even worse. She wanted to invite us to a religious event - Jehovah's Witness, most likely.
I used to engage in dialog with these folks, but after seeing a comic video in which an atheist tries to proselytize to Mormons I decided I agreed with him. Any such intrusion on my peace is uncalled for.
Besides, it was cold. I wanted to shut the door.
I said, "No, thank you. We have our own church."
After I closed the door I snorted and said to myself, "The Church of Irreligious Science!"
I thought that was kind of funny.
I still feel guilty for lying, though.
April 4, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Do phone texters and tweeters use four syllable words?
I've wondered in the past why there are so many short letter combinations that could be words and are not.
Today I was thinking about "lugubrious." There's a four syllable word for you. Why not a shorter one?
It occurred to me maybe it was kind of kinesthopoetic. It meant, I thought, slow and heavy, and saying the word is certainly slow, heavy and drawn out.
So I looked up the etymology. Well hell, I even had the meaning wrong! It means mournful, and comes from the Latin (and maybe formerly from the similar Greek) verb "to mourn."
Well, of course if you are grieving you are probably slow and heavy. I wasn't too far off. And my point is still the same.
We humans want variety and rhythm. As easy as it might seem to speak in only one-syllable words, it would be like barking.
Plus associations help us remember meanings, and we get them by adding syllables.
By the way, thank April for this lugubrious day!
April 3, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Well, April is a corkscrew. Feeling chilly all day from the wind, when I went to put out the compost at five o'clock, I put on my winter jacket. It was seventy degrees out! I felt like a fool but left the jacket on.
Farther south, at the Ohio River Valley and below and east of it, April is offering to literally screw the residents with tornadoes. If Mother Nature is the supreme terrorist, maybe in the Midwest her name is April.
Mother Nature scoffs. "This is nothing! Wait 'til you experience a hurricane or are buried under an avalanche!"
Okay. I'll wait. Gladly and I hope forever.
April 2, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
I don't think the finches like opiates.
My partner has been feeding them canary food because he thinks they like it.
I think so too, but every time I vacuum near their cage lately, I've been seeing a lot of what looks like poppyseed.
Canaries like opiates but finches don't?
Ha, ha! Maybe that's why they sing so much better!
April 1, 2011 Valparaiso, IN
Well, I wrote a sour grumpy poem for Fool's Day, and guess what! I fooled myself by forgetting to put necessary info at the head and the article fooled me!
Poem gone, vanished.
Bad enough the cold rain and all-day clouds, without me celebrating them.
Boo. Cruel April.
Instead, I will begin my favorite month to fool around in by celebrating folly.
The other day we were in Bed, Bath, and Beyond, when we heard one employee call to another, "I'm with a guest!"
I snickered. If we're guests, why do we have to pay?
But of course, if you stay as a "guest" at a hotel, you have to pay.
So why do I object to a store calling a customer a guest?
Maybe because they have skipped all the intervening stages of respectful address - client, patron.
Maybe because it is sooooo pretentious.
Maybe because at least a paying guest at a hotel gets to spend the night.
Bed, Bath, and Beyond doesn't even want you to lie down on their beds.
And I didn't see a place to sit down either. No one offered me refreshments.
Celebrate folly! Go to your local thrift store and insist upon being referred to as a guest.
The homeless will be glad to know that they are guests of Mother Nature - especially on such an evening as this!
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