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Rumilluminations Now
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sun, November 01 2015 - 8:35 am

November 26, 2015                                       Madison, IN

Happy Thanksgiving!

I was heading to the kitchen to make coffee this morning when my partner said, "I'm going to turn on some news" then, with an ironic chuckle, "going to see if we've been blown up.

I'm getting real tired, though, of the media telling us how afraid we all are."

What a good thing to write about! I do not see anyone, in my perambulations around town, who seems particularly frightened.

Maybe people living in the biggest cities are a little more nervous, but let's be realistic - certain people in our population have more to fear from the police than from terrorists, and judging from the crowds I'm seeing in the streets during news reports, citizens aren't much afraid.

Speaking of crowds, it's interesting - I am not seeing street demonstrations against terrorists. Demonstrators are protesting police brutality.

Local governments and police forces don't seem to be getting the message these folks are trying to deliver.

Demonstrators are a show of force.

The message is, "Be aware of our numbers! Watch your step! Don't tread on me!"

The message the establishment seems to be getting is "Nyah nyah, we can do whatever we want and we are going to break the law right now! BOO!"

Corrupt police are also failing to get the new reality that is being amply attempted and often coming into play:

Little brother is watching you.

To quote Rilke (writing about God):

"There is no place to hide. You must change your life."

Oh! - and happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2015                                       Madison, IN

Heard another fun turkey fact(?) this a.m. Today's domestic turkeys have gotten so big they can't breed normally. They have to be artificially disseminated. (Ha, ha my editor doesn't even know the word "inseminated". Had to educate it.)

Anyway, it's really a pleasure to see so many more wild turkeys in nature than we used. I guess they are sleek racing models compared to farmed ones - marked more interestingly also.

We went ahead and had our turkey dinners (two meals straight!) a day early and gave a couple of neighbors plated dinners also. I was forced to wait much more patiently as a child.

Happy Thanksgiving,  New Worlders!

November 24, 2015                                       Madison, IN

The holidays are upon us and that is okay with me.

Today I learned that turkeys are originally from Mexico, that there are human turkeys in this country who think it is okay to congregate with rifles outside the places where other people worship, and that turkey birds, when they were first introduced to Turkey, were called by the Turks "Hindi" - yeah the same word as one of the major languages of India.

Speaking of the human variety, since when did the citizens of the good old U.S. come to the conclusion that just because a behavior is not technically illegal that it is okay?

There are all kinds of behavior that are just wrong, wrong, wrong (including some of my past own, for sure) and it is an adolescent (if not toddler) psyche that wants to continually skate along the edge of the thinly barely supportable okay-ish to see how much it can get away with.

Turkeys are begging these days for a dressing (down) served up with a saucy side of sour fruit that needs a lot of sweetening up and white mashed potatoes. Humans, you don't want to deserve the appellation (apple-ation?) this week, do you?

Don't be a turkey. Roast one!

(I know, I know just because I can make a corny joke doesn't make it right. It's wrong, wrong wrong.

But not illegal!)  

*Dragon  Ha, ha we thought we were going to see a classic detective story set in beautiful exotic China. Well, we were partly right but this film is more Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon than Charlie Chan. Wonderful to watch the martial ballet.

November 23, 2015                                        Madison, IN

Seeing Papa John's pizza ads during football games makes me really want to order a pizza from Pizza Hut.

Driving home from the airport next to my three-year-old grandson over two months ago, he asked me, "How come you're always so beautiful?" It took me this long to wonder if he has had his eyesight checked.

*Black or White  Tale definitely told in shades of grey.

*Mississippi Damned  A film that winds up grabbing your heart after seemingly endless dismal pointless despair.

November 22, 2015                                        Madison, IN

While I was walking this morning (in low 20's F) I was mentally thinking of things to write about: the sycamore fruits that look like little golden-brown comets, a yogi of old (who, if alive now will be very very old) who talked about the human penchant for change "people want more, more, more or a little less, less, less..." which of course merely reflects the way all nature behaves, my discovery of my own keys on the riverwalk a good forty minutes after my discovery that they were missing (simultaneous discoveries) and idle curiosity about why I feel such compulsion to report and to comment.

Well, my mom used to snag me on my way upstairs and ask how my day went. My older sister (as an adult) informed me that Mom used to try it with her, but she avoided it. Well, it is always the young, weak and wounded that get caught by the predators.

Truth to tell, though, I don't remember minding. Always have loved attention.

See? A compulsion to report, even if nothing happened that day, even embarrassing facts and events.

Ha, ha, I just remembered I'm jotting this down after two days of blahg silence preceded by the comment (just for the record) that I was experiencing a mysterious aversion to writing. (...a little less, less then zero, then a little more, more MORE!")

November 19, 2015                                         Madison, IN

For some reason I've been really averse to writing lately. My projected Z to A series was brought up short by my encounter with V as in Vietnam. Talk about blockage! When I looked up what was happening on that date (now weeks if not months ago) all I saw highlighted in the way of news was sports. Sports! I really seem to have a resistance to writing about Vietnam.

Our walks lately have been beautiful. The weather, unlike a year ago when it was snowy, has been positively balmy. Idyllic instead of icy. So what on earth is wrong with me?

I haven't seen much wildlife, except for ducks, geese, vultures, and - inexplicably - a very beautiful but very lifeless woodcock under a pink barberry hedge on our street this side of Shipley's Tavern. I couldn't see a mark on it that would explain its demise. It was especially sad because I never really saw a woodcock before in my life except as an after-image upon one exploding from under my feet more than fifty years ago. Now I see one dead within a block of the GPS center of town.

That, however, was a week ago and I didn't write about it then.

Maybe it is that Thanksgiving is coming and I am happily looking forward to eating. Or maybe it is simply that, despite all the terrible recent world events, I am happy.

Not want to write because I am happy?

Now that would be depressing.

*The Man Who Came to Dinner  Filmed stage production starring Nathan Lane. Lots of offstage background, lots of onstage laughs. Delightfully rude is he.

November 18, 2015                                         Madison, IN

*Tangerine  Interesting slice of life, maybe, but living it sure looks like a bore.

*She's so Lovely  Whew! Another story about chaotic lives and inexplicable emotions- this is so strange and so well done.

November 16, 2015                                         Madison, IN

Maybe this has been obvious to everyone else for a while, but I am finally just now getting it: technology is not only redefining the word "friend" - it is redefining the word "State."

If 9-11 and the massacre in Paris are not just terrorism - if they are acts of war - we have to divorce even our idea of government and power of state from geographical boundaries. Doing that is scary in the extreme. After all, everyone alive has to be somewhere. The idea that militant ISIS can turn up wherever whenever to wreak havoc on people simply dwelling in some random place turns our idea of Statehood upside down.

I know ISIS has captured territories, but has it a capitol? What exactly is its form of government - a virtual hierarchy? 

Does it intend to have a real physical country with borders that its leaders can define now, or does it simply have a take-over-the-whole-world mentality?

What does it matter who has control of Jerusalem anymore if a virtual State can just come in and destroy it, as ISIS has done to historical religious treasures of other countries?

If people have no respect for others, they may be sure that learned lack of respect will rebound upon them. And that includes ISIS, us, and the future virtual states that will wage war on both.

*The Loft  A loft is something above. This movie is the pits. Great idea for story - too bad this realization is so unimaginative. Then, we gave up and stopped watching halfway through.

November 15, 2015                                        Madison, IN

It really bugs me when people say our response to terrorism in a city like Paris is because the victims are "white."

We aren't responding because of who the victims are - we are responding because of where they are.

We don't respond quite so much when we hear about suicide bombings in the Middle East because they are practically routine in the Middle East. Violence there is not News - it's Olds.

Don't get me wrong - I am aware that the oil-driven economies of the more "advanced" countries are largely responsible for the fact that the terrorists have invaded our more stable cultures.

I for one see the invasion of terrorism into richer countries as being not racial or political action based on race (although I do, (ha, ha) occasionally envision the blood-thirsty as descendants of Genghis Khan) but as consummately human reaction to intolerable conditions at home - a response to a lack of hope for a better future.

Desperation is the motivator, and we are unfortunately breeding more desperation here at home as well as abroad.

What I don't understand is the incredible facility many terrorists have with technology coupled with their complete lack of mastery of the cultural tools that allowed that technology to come into being - that is, freedom, respect for human life, compassion, science.

Do these folks contemplate using technology to overthrow the current world order and then throwing it all away? No more evil autos, planes, computers, medical devices, video games?


No, if these terrorist events start happening in the world's first-world precincts on a daily basis they won't get so much coverage.

God forbid.

I would much rather get some surprising news from the Middle East about huge strides in the success of using political techniques to create peace.

Given the unfortunate economic conditions in that part of the world, it is probably not likely to happen soon.

November 14, 2015                                        Madison, IN

Natural disasters can kill thousands and we are upset. We think of the victims and their families, empathize, and ultimately throw up our hands. The human race tries with all its ingenuity to guard against being swept away by natural forces, but we can't all expect to escape the forces of nature. Correction - ultimately, none of us can.

Tragedy caused by man is another matter. Accidents are bad enough but intentional murder is something people of good will just can't get their heads around. It's so unnecessary! It's so stupid and mean!

Once we accept human brutality, we give the perpetrators something we never bother to extend to Mother Nature: we get mad.

We may get our brains around events. Getting into the minds of terrorists is another matter and I for one am not sure I really want to understand.

It is too damn scary.

*Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean  This movie dates from 1982 (and a 1976 play) but it sure seems like a blast from the sixties past. What a cast!


*Save The Date  Okay but not wonderful. 

November 13, 2015                                        Madison, IN

We moved into our apartment three and one-half years ago. Immediately I noticed storage structures the shape of silos directly in front of the parking lot of our apartment building. Not a pretty sight, but part of someone else's property. We look beyond them to the river, and in front of them are two catalpa trees.

Right next to the other building in our complex is an even stranger structure, something that looks like a storage shed on stilts, with a big pipe running straight down from the middle into the ground

Last week I finally asked the landlord about it.

It was a little water tower used long ago by the city of Madison! The silos were used for storing wheat and corn, my landlord volunteered.

Turns out these unsightly structures are a little piece of Madison history!

Now I appreciate them more.

A little bit more, anyway.

*Hungry Hearts  This should be labelled a psychological thriller, and an extremely disturbing one at that. The infant's mom has all this pathology she's not even beginning to look at.

November 12, 2015                                        Madison, IN

*Alex  The film had me with the line, The only thing worse than the present is nostalgia for the past. A very funny film, and more than that.

*A Gang Story   A just too horrible story told very well indeed.

November 11, 2015                                       Madison, IN

So many folks are thanking their friends and family who served in the military. Some folks I know are thanking friends for courageous conscientious objection during  the Vietnam War.

My dad, whose mother was of Quaker background, had the only brush with the military in my family background, as far as I know. When the U.S. joined World War II, he was either drafted or enlisted as a conscientious objector. He was willing to serve as a noncombatant.

When he went for his physical, the doctor looked at the results of his test and threw down the paperwork in disgust. One out of every ten thousand people have nystagmous (jiggling eyes) and my dad was the second one in a row for this group.

Since my dad's nystagmous was congenital, he was labeled 4-F and not wanted for service at all. He stayed in the States and spent the war years teaching music.

Ironically, the other person examined that day was not 4-F. He had jiggly eyes as the result of some disease. Maybe his early ability to focus better made him more able to satisfy the visual demands that would be made upon him during war. It's hard to imagine how.

My partner's dad did serve in World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and suffered his whole life after, at least from PTSD.

It's probably just as well my dad didn't go at all. He already had a temper. Combat might have sent him completely round the bend.

*Someone Like You    Fun/bitter romantic comedy with a little word-play.       

*Twinsters  Within nine months she has a new family member -and not by having a new baby. Awesome story told in this documentary film.

November 10, 2015                                       Madison, IN

I can understand how some rich people think the "trickle down" theory can work. They hire a lot of people, they tip a lot of people, they patronize the arts. They spread the largesse abundantly as far as they can see.

I liken their influence, however, to that of a big pot of water with twenty holes in it sitting in the middle of a field in a semi-arid environment. Sure, the plants around the pot get some water. They might even get enough water to live. A few places away from the pot, however, the ground is dry and there is no irrigation.

Society needs more than a trickle of resources. The whole culture, like a large garden, needs a rainstorm or substantial irrigation.

Likewise, it seems the lower classes resent the food stamps and entitlements of the people they see around them. The tax breaks, subsidies, and entitlements obtainable by corporations and very wealthy individuals are hidden from them, so escape their attention.

That's why we all need to pay attention to the life experiences of many others - not just those few we can observe first-hand.


*Dope  We really tried to watch this movie; more the dopes we, we almost made it to the end.

November 9, 2015                                         Madison, IN

Today a group recruited by Alexandra Wardwell met at Big Oaks Wildlife Preserve and collected milkweed, Joe Pye weed and blazing star seeds for propagation elsewhere to help maintain monarch butterflies and sustain prairie along with the life forms that live there.

We got to go into areas of the former Jefferson Proving Grounds not usually open to the public. This involved seeing a one-room schoolhouse built in the 1830s (?) that didn't get practice-bombed "because it was so close to the perimeter" of the testing area. The classroom contained a few wooden desks with inkwells and wrought-iron hardware that seemed familiar to me in style, except I certainly do not remember sitting on a bench attached to the desk behind me trying to learn to print using a desk attached to a wiggling person in front of me. Do you? Of course that is the kind of architectural detail I would never have noticed at the age of six.

We got to drive along roads with little rocket-shaped unexploded bombs (that looked more like boys' toys than anything seriously real) within a few feet of the roadbed. This is a dangerous place to roam, and we watched a video designed to impress us of that fact before we could leave the office. This is required yearly no matter how often you have been there. Pretty dramatic, really.

We also saw a harrier, a bird of prey that likes prairie life (in more ways than one) but I confess I would not have been able to identify it at that distance with or without a bird guide.

Oh, and yeah, we collected seeds - quite a few of them. It was fun. Everyone was likeable and cooperative - even the rain, which only approached us very timidly when we were almost done anyway.

Great day!

*Point  Blank  Wow - the French really know how to do hard-core gritty big-city corruption thriller drama! This woke me up from a dozey state that not just any movie could banish.

*Sweet November  What would you call this movie from 1968? An unromantic tragi-comic romantic comedy? It was sweet in an off-putting kind of way.

November 8, 2015                                         Madison, IN

Today I made jalapeno cheese bread for the third time, and this time I played it smart. I wore gloves while I was chopping the jalapenos.

No wonder I was so euphoric when it came time to knead!

People who use bread machines miss out on the part that's the most fun.

Kneading a fragrant, warm dough has got to be one of the top sensual pleasures in life.

Robert Blye maintained that Americans had lost all connection to the divine except Eros; I think most of us have also lost any connection to sensuality that isn't sexual or gustatory.

Speaking of which - I think I have to have another slice of that bread. Sure, it's no longer warm from the oven, but it is chile-warm.

November 7, 2015                                         Madison, IN

Giggleicious is what I want. Chuckleortious and rantrageous.

Enough of soberful and dignifictious and waity.

Spring is here!

Yes, it is!

It must be. Today I went out jacketless and sunnyfunny.

Sick of being overautocorrected, my goal is to give my virtual editor a heart attack and render it paralyzed.

Out, out, damned despot!

*Goodbye to All That  Frustrating to watch these characters. Okay movie - beautiful child.

November 6, 2015                                         Madison, IN

*Brief Interviews with Hideous Men  Wow. Really liked this unusual, unusually honest film.

*Carolina  Disjointed mostly mediocre and unsympathetic but has a few good lines.

November 5, 2015                                         Madison, IN

Saw great drone footage of the brand new Louisville, KY to Jeffersonville (?) IN bridge today. For the first year or two crossing will be free, but after that there will be a toll: maybe six dollars or twelve dollars - EACH WAY.


Oh, here we go again. Use taxpayer dollars to build something and then make taxpayers pay all over again to use it.

Indiana paid for some of that bridge (or at least substantially for one of the two new bridges that are going up - okay, okay I'm relying on my lamentable late memory here) and now people will be discouraged from coming here by a high toll. Some people won't be able to afford using the bridge at all.

Only if you have so much money that you don't care about what for a minimum wage earner would be half a day's take-home pay to cross the bridge and come back will you be able to use that bridge.

I envision the same old overcrowded conditions on the old bridge while the new bridge, used only by the portion of the five percent that don't own private jets or helicopters, provides a river crossing for maybe ten people per hour.

Here we go again. First class accommodations for the rich and a cattle crossing for the poor.

My prediction? This won't fly.

Seize a free day though, folks, while they last. In my experience going into a big city early on a Sunday morning is relatively hassle-free.

*Grand Hotel  The source of Greta Garbo's famous "I want to be alone" line. What a revelation this movie is!

November 4, 2015                                         Madison, IN

*Mystic Masseur  Story set in Trinidad, simply told as if for children.

November 3, 2015                                         Madison, IN

Last night we heard Robert Redford on Hardball deploring the confusion between news reporting and entertainment.

I don't know if he had given examples of this phenomenon because we tuned in at the tail end of the interview.

This morning, however, we were confronted by what could have been an new turn in this story: the playing of a musical sound track in the background of a news item.

It's ironic that what has become a curse to our movie watching (that is, background music that often covers the dialogue) is now threatening to encroach upon our news programs.

Considering how are emotions are swayed (sometimes subliminally) by music, the musical accompaniment to news could be not just confusing but pernicious.

*First Comes Love  Oh, boo hoo. This woman seems to have no clue about the amazing amount of support she has with this baby she chose to have "alone". She does deserve credit for her willingness to bare all.

*The End of the Tour  About David Foster Wallace interview with Rolling Stone's David Lipsky. An interesting film - mostly conversation, of course. Now I have to read Wallace and maybe Lipsky's book, too.

November 2, 2015                                         Madison, IN

I'm already up, mostly recuperated, coffeed, breakfasted and ready to make a deposit at my local bank but it is only 7:44 a.m. Typical.

Don't ask me why I don't bank online. I like to see the sky even when, like today, you can't see it for all the dank clammy fog.

I'm old-fashioned like that.

*The Guild  After stumbling across Felicia Day's memoir at the public library and loving it (see For Book Butterflies Heaven's Scene) and finding out that her UTube series The Guild is available on Netflix streaming, we've been watching it. Some of the best comedy I've seen lately! (When she tried to get a pilot on TV she struck out. Last laugh! and she owes it all to a support group. Read the book first. Oh, there I go again....) 

November 1, 2015                                          Madison, IN

At three a.m. I started the month off by getting very very sick. By bedtime last night I had a sore throat but by three it had become the worst sore throat of my life. I got up to get water and felt so bad I stumbled into the bathroom, fearing I might vomit. Then I felt so bad I could barely grab a towel to lie on before I collapsed. A ruptured appendix was nothing compared to this, folks!

I am a big proponent of flu shots, but with or without them I hadn't gotten sick like this for twenty years. I meant to get the shot this year, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. Big mistake!

You do not want to get this bug, folks. Get your flu shot!

There's more to my particular story, though. After a while collapsed (and asleep?) on the bathroom floor I started to feel weak and tingly on my right side. "Stroke!" I thought, but I was definitely unable to get up.

I called my partner (not as bad as it sounds because he had to get up at four anyway) and told him I might have to go to the hospital. He wasn't so sure.

Neither was I, to tell the truth. I'm pretty sure I had a transient ischemic stroke, but of what magnitude? The only symptom was the one-sided weakness.

He helped me up, helped me to bed, made me tea and chicken noodle soup. I feel much better already but am still a little apprehensive.

The general question is, of course, at what point does one get help? I think we often have minor symptoms that are the result of malfunctions that are too slight for medicine to pick up anyway. We ignore them, however, to our peril.

For a long while now I have gotten more and more careless about observing my really quite restrained (if not rigid) diet so of course I now resolve to be a lot more careful.

But dang! This would have to happen on the one day my partner is gone at work for fourteen hours.

Of course now I am full of good advice for everybody else.

Get your flu shot! Eat healthy food!

And you lucky folks south of the equator who are well into Spring - do enjoy your November! And remember to get your flu shot next April.

Much later: Well, no hospital trip for me today and I feel somewhat better. No bread-making though, alas. I'm playing the invalid. Hopefully tomorrow.

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