We received a bunch of frog green Live Strong-style bracelets. Since I'm a great Muppets fan, and not particularly mature, the bracelets looked just like frog lips. Papier mache frog princes were already on the lesson plan. I hope they turn out more expressive than Prince Charles!
Last fall we were given a big trash bag full of small fake fruit that had been used in party decorations for a big event. I was delighted with the gift, but then began to wonder if my mental apple tree was full of nutty squirrels. What was I going to do with all those itty-bitty apples and pears? If you are yelling, "Just take them to the dumpster!," then you aren't an art teacher. Art teachers live by a code, much the way Disney pirates do. Art teachers don't say, "Arrgh," all that much, but they say, "I'm sure we could use that for something," several times a day.
My counselor used to tell me that anger was my best friend when I was going through my divorce. "Don't stuff it down; that anger is your motivator! It's there to push you to change your life!" She was right. You can't just keep putting that anger into black garbage bags and stuffing it into a closet forever. Closets get really full.
As an art teacher, the closet is my motivator. When the supply closet gets too full of boxes and bags of weird materials like miniature fake fruit, I am pushed to create uses for all that stuff. And so, the recipe for creativity is similar to applesauce made in a pressure cooker.
If you put one miniature fruit in a very small brown paper bag, then twist the rest of the sack tightly, you have created a living character for a small child. Even before the child draws a face, the puppet begins to talk. It's like having a conversation with a Tootsie Pop. The Tootsie Pop is both your microphone and a little character talking back to you.
Magic is Danny Kaye playing Hans Christian Andersen singing "Thumbelina." Magic is a child talking to a styrofoam apple in a bag about wanting long brown yarn hair. Magic is making pipe cleaner arms hold a basket of goodies, illustrated with ice cream cones and strawberries. Little Red Riding Hood better go quick if she's taking ice cream cones to Grandma in that basket.
One small child had drawn fruits and vegetables on her paper basket. "Do you think it would be okay to take chocolate to Grandma?," she asked me. Dang skippy! Grandma is going to be mighty disappointed if you don't take chocolate! Don't these kids know what "goodies" means???
The magic continued when we gave the Little Red puppets hooded capes made of end-of-the-bolt bargain "cherry red prom taffeta". We won't get into the deep psychological origins of the Little Red Cap folktale that I had to study in a college English class three decades ago! Taffeta just has that magic tactile quality for kids like the binding on their special security blankies.
Pretty soon the puppets were conversing with other puppets, as well as with their creators. They were not discussing Grimm concerns. They were discussing afternoon playdates, birthday parties, and swim lessons.
I'm glad I've learned a recipe for the other bag of fake fruits! And now I'm going to listen to "A Little Duet for Zoot and Chet." That would be Chet Baker and Zoot Simms, and I'll probably wish I was wearing a cherry red taffeta prom dress!
Ew, gross! I gave him some money when he drove me to the train station, and told him to go to the store himself as hummus is way too scary for me.
"What do you mean by too esoteric, Mom?"
"Not esoteric! Just plain scary."
"Scary? Have you ever tried hummus, Mom?"
"I could not, would not in a box. I will not, will not with a fox, and I won't even get into how I feel about feta."
"Mom, hummus is just a dip. I bet if you tried it you would like it."
"I will not, will not with a goat. It's sheep guts run over by a Hummer."
"No, Mom, that's haggis, a Scottish dish consisting of a mixture of the minced heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep or calf mixed with suet, onions, oatmeal, and seasonings, and boiled in the stomach of the animal."
"I don't care. I will not try it anywhere. Hummus isn't even in my dictionary."
"But, Mom, it's so good you see! It's hummus
1955, from Turk. humus 'mashed chick peas.'"
"Son, if you won't let me be, I'll take away your Buick key."
*Like the beat comma beat comma beat of the tom hyphen tom,
When the jungle shadows fall.
Like the tick hyphen tick hyphen tock of the stately clock,
As it stands against the wall.
Like the drip comma drip comma drip of the raindrops,
When the summer shower is through.
Some voice within me keeps repeating
Colon, quotation mark.
You comma you comma you, exclamation point.
Close quotation, period, dash.
Night and day, comma.
You are the one, dash.
Only to you comma beneath the moon comma and under the sun.
Whether near to me or far, dot dot dot,
It's no matter comma darling comma where you are, dash.
I think of you, comma.
Night and day, period. New paragraph.
Night and day, exclamation point.
Under the height of me. Dash.
There's an oh such a hungry yearning comma
Burning parenthesis inside of me.
Closed parenthesis, period.
(Well, "inside of me" is a parenthetical phrase that describes where the yearning is burning.)
And torment won't be through
Until you let me spend my life making love to you. Asterisk!
('Cause there's a footnote at the bottom that tells who's making love to who.)
Spend my life making love to you.
Day and night?
Night and day, question mark.
Night and day.
We have two restrooms for our students, but no locks on the doors. Anyone who has ever had to talk a small child into unlocking a bathroom door knows why. The restrooms are not gender designated. Any woman who has ever stood in the line during halftime at the University of Nebraska's Memorial Stadium knows why.
Our restrooms have this door sign:
"Look, it's a drive-through!," one preschooler tells another while pointing at the sign.
Older students have signs to hang on the doorknobs that read "Vacant" or "In Use". One six year-old reports, "The bathroom is vagrant." Another says it is "violent". It's usually only violent when kids flush paper towels down the toilet.
We encourage a Knock Before Entering approach. I advocate knocking and hollering, "Little Pig, Little Pig, let me come in!" Anybody in the potty had better holler back in a loud and timely fashion, "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!," if they want to retain their privacy.
Bladders are on my brain for several reasons, but I'll refrain from writing in stream of consciousness! This week I have a three year-old student who wears a velcro wristwatch that beeps loudly every hour. When it begins to beep, all her little friends holler at her to run, run as fast as she can to the restroom. What is this about?
"Timed voiding" is the urological behavior-modification term for this, I learn by Googling. We frown on prolonged googling in the restrooms, and also on squirting all the liquid soap out of the dispenser. Three years-old seems really young to use this potty-training beeper-alert extreme to me.
When does the occasional accident become a situation requiring medical or technological intervention? As a parent fifteen-twenty years ago, I believed "accidents" were a problem once a child entered kindergarten, and "bedwetting" became a real issue a couple years later. Pediatricians told me to relax, and my kids would outgrow it before they went to college. They did, and we only had to read a few books together about a magic camel taking a boy to Dryland.
I have to wonder about the long-term consequences of using beeping potty reminders with a three year-old. When she is fifty will she only be able to urinate when trucks back up?
While my sister and I were visiting the old homestead earlier this month, we had to learn to hold down the handle while the toilet flushed. Talk about teaching old dogs new tricks! We finally mastered the trick the day our visit ended. It's been two weeks since we departed Finicky Flusher Land, but both of us are still trying to unlearn the technique.
Recently read Rick Reilly's Sports Illustrated story about the strap-on Beer Belly device for carrying eighty ounces of beer into sporting events. A personal beer supply dispensed from one's fly is pretty scary, although Reilly's story is hilarious. Reilly also reports on Stadium Pal (from BioRelief.com!), a complementary device that allows sports fans with full bladders to never miss a down. The drainage valve goes right into your Dallas Cowboys boot. Reilly's review goes, "The irony was, I couldn't go. You don't undo 46 years of training in two hours. I had to close my eyes and think of the Trevi Fountain."
One of the most harrowing experiences of my thirteenish babysitting career was an evening of duelling elimination--two preschool boys and their beloved dog. Trouble was, the dog had been banished to the garage after an overdose of an anti-canine constipation remedy. The four year-old let the dog back into the house (with its lovely new powder blue wall-to-wall carpet), then barricaded himself in the bathroom, while the two year-old climbed up on top of the refrigerator and growled at me.
You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.
Did you flush and wash????
My elementary art students are creating Old West main street scenes with false fronts worthy of many wild west Front Streets and more than a few Hell's Half-Acres. The preschool students have made Plains Indian shields and headdresses. Now they are making corrugated cardboard Sioux breastplates.
It's easy to forget how far I've gone deep undercover with my Quick Draw McGraw method acting until I realize I'm conversing with the Albertson's checker like I just fell off my hoss, and I'm pullin' cactus prickles outta my britches.
I can't begin to figure the number of times I have read Lois Lenski's Cowboy Small to small children. When Cowboy Small rides out on the range to fix the fences he cooks beef, red beans, and coffee on the campfire. If we didn't have a county burn ban because of the drought(which some Nebraskans pronounce drouth)I'd be tempted by that menu myself.
My job entails wearing many hats, but on the first day of each summer camp "wearing many hats" is my mandate. On these days I escape my art teacher persona to ham it up on stage and "let it all hang out" as we used to say in the Sixties. This is not the right moment for me to get distracted by idioms involving the word hang, but if you've got the time, this is the place. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
So after I skipped around the stage wearing Little Red's hood and carrying a basket of goodies, I changed to the rat hat. The Pied Piper of Hamelin is a very scary story. It ranks right up their with the mice in "The Nutcracker" and the flying monkeys in Oz. "Does anyone know what pied means?" Yes! Yes! I do! I do! One student started telling us the digits, 3.14159265358979323846. No, not that pi. We pantomime throwing a clown cream pie in his face.
Did Harold ever draw a quiche with his purple crayon? What about a Frito pie? Harold did draw the nine kinds of pie that he liked best? And what about Old King Cole with the four and twenty blackbirds?
We are still looking for the meaning of pied. I'm pleased to learn about the Heckle and Jeckle magpie connection.
pied 1382, as if it were the pp. of a verb form of M.E. noun pie "magpie" (see pie (2)), in ref. to the bird's black and white plumage. Earliest use is in reference to the pyed freres, an order of friars who wore black and white. Also in pied piper (1845, in Browning's poem based on the Ger. legend; used allusively from 1942).
pie (1) "pastry," 1303, from M.L. pie "meat or fish enclosed in pastry," perhaps related to M.L. pia "pie, pastry," also possibly connected with pica "magpie" (see pie (2)) on notion of the bird's habit of collecting miscellaneous objects. Not known outside Eng., except Gaelic pighe, which is from Eng. In the Middle Ages, a pie had many ingredients, a pastry but one. Fruit pies began to appear c.1600. Fig. sense of "something easy" is from 1889. Pie-eyed "drunk" is from 1904. Phrase pie in the sky is 1911, from Joe Hill's Wobbly parody of hymns. Pieman is not attested earlier than the nursery rhyme "Simple Simon" (c.1820).
pie (2) "magpie," c.1250, from O.Fr. pie (13c.), from L. pica "magpie," related to picus "woodpecker," Umbrian peica "the magpie," Skt. pikah "Indian cuckoo," O.N. spætr, Ger. Specht "woodpecker" (see magpie).
pie (3) printers' slang for "a mass of type jumbled together" (also pi, pye), 1659, perhaps from pie (1) on notion of a "medley," or pie (2) (see pica).
And so, so, so, so..."pied" means multi-colored.
Went to see Johnny Depp and OrlandoBloom in "Pirates of the Caribbean--Dead Man's Chest" yesterday. I'm fond of pirates, but not of nightmares. How many children will have octopus nightmares after watching the movie's Davy Jones?
One of the best ways to get over nightmares is to learn about the subject. An octopus is a fascinating, curious, smart creature, although difficult to pluralize. I have two books I love to share with elementary students, Karen Wallace's Gentle Giant Octopus, and the Smithsonian book, Octopus' Den.
1758, genus name of a type of eight-armed cephalopod mollusks, from Gk. oktopous "eight-footed," from okto "eight" + pous "foot." Proper plural is octopodes, though octopuses probably works better in English. Octopi is from mistaken assumption that -us is the L. noun ending that takes -i in plural.
*And now for a little song from Nat King Cole, who may or may not have liked pie.
Love is a many-splendored thing,
It's the April rose that only grows in the early spring,
Love is nature's way of giving a reason to be living,
The golden crown that makes a man a king.
Once on a high and windy hill,
In the morning mist two lovers kissed and the world stood still,
Then your fingers touched my silent heart and taught it how to sing,
Yes, true love's a many-splendored thing.
My college son, home for the summer, requires bagels. Bagels are one of his Basic Food Groups. Bagels, in turn, require toasters or toaster ovens. Toasters and toaster ovens fit in the category of small appliances where my luck is mighty poor. Coffee makers are my most ungrateful and noncompliant small appliances, followed quickly to that Big Kitchen Counter In the Sky by crockpots of assorted sizes. I must say in my own defense that I have excellent luck with handheld mixers and hair dryers. Professionally, I slay no glue gun before its time.
Yesterday I heard just enough of the NPR Studio 360 segment about vacuum coffee makers that I'm wondering about my grandma's stainless coffee maker that sat on the wheeled tea cart. It looked like a stainless steel laughing Buddha. Coffee smelled better in Grandma's kitchen than anywhere before or since.
Anyway, I got a good ten hours of sleep last night, and then set out to Target for a toaster oven. Found some bras. Three, in fact. Three bras before breakfast. I'm bursting into song! Three bras before breakfast, sung to the tune of "Three Coins in a Fountain," the Academy Award Best Song of 1954 by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, recorded by the Four Aces and Frank Sinatra.
I must have been six or seven at the time, so about the age when kids started hearing lectures about not getting into cars with strangers. We had an incredibly secure childhood in a neighborhood where we couldn't make much of a move without being in view of a mommy looking out her kitchen window, so we were able to run and play all over the block, and ride bikes all around the neighborhood. We kids made our own entertainment most of the time, and participated in far fewer adult-organized activities than kids do now.
I somehow equated the warnings about strangers in cars with the Yogi cartoon. Get in a car with a stranger, and that mad little scientist will put a colander on your head, hook up some wires, and swap your brain! Come to think of it, maybe that cartoon is where our president got all his ideas about scientists!
I don't really believe Al Gore invented the internet, of course, but a bit of Yankee ingenuity has improved my son's access to email. Son Two is spending the summer doing an internship in a sweltering foreign country without air conditioning (and I don't mean St. Louis). Al Gore is probably doing his global warming slide shows somewhere in a/c comfort.
The sweltering summer interns have rigged up wires from a USB port through a metal sieve which they dangle out the window of their apartment. This soup-cans-and-string contraption somehow sucks internet vibes out of thin air, or at least picks up signals from WiFi or routers in other apartments in the building.
Communication sure has come a long way since I used to sit in the treehouse writing notes and lowering them in a bucket on a rope to my siblings. There was a nice breeze up there most of the time, and the wood was satisfyingly warm. It was very safe, and I never clucked.
The student and I trade knowing looks. We've got to sneak up on the big, black, furry thing without alarming the rest of the class. My hot glue gun is of no use at this range, so I slide it back into my holster. We have to rely on our own grit and determination, as the telegraph wires have been cut. Armed with just a broom, I shut one eye tight, and get down on one knee. Geez, Louise! That furry moving thing is one big scary dusty blue feather blown about by the air conditioner. What a relief. I sweep it into the dustpan. The student breathes a sigh of relief. We wordlessly agree not to notify the press corps.
"Varmint" seems to be a variant of "vermin", not to be confused with "victuals" or "vittles". In my classroom it's not a good idea to eat anything that's been on the rug!
The "light medical" plastic surgery procedures are probably not for people who buy Lite Beer from Miller. In my demographic "Klinger" is a corporal at the MASH 4077th, not the sixty-year-old Georgette Klinger spa-chain. My mall is the excellent dork-walking facility, Collin Creek Mall. If anyone invents a beauty treatment based on trekking across melted asphalt to doors marked by the squirrel & acorn symbol, I'll be looking mighty fine!
I just love this quote from Maria Halkias' story in today's Dallas Morning News:
People pay $500 for a jar of something with no science behind it...We're going to raise the beauty bar.
Can't you just see it? The cowboys from the Beauty Bar Ranch walk into the Klinger Saloon in the post-ghost town of Mall Gulch. When they put their elbows on the bar the balding bartender wipes his hands on his apron and asks, "What'll it be? Sasparilla? Two percent fortified milk? Liquid Plumber? Pepto-Bismol?" No way! The cowboys want to pay $500 for a jar of something with no science behind it!
My son explained that it was not the Jesse Ventura/Hulk Hogan type of wrestling, but UFC, the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He seems to think UFC has actual female fans, and is a serious competition. I rolled my eyes some more.
"WHAT is ULTIMATE FIGHTING in the UFC? Ultimate Fighting is a proprietary term of the UFC. It is defined as mixed martial arts competition between high level professional fighters who utilize the disciplines of jiu-jitsu, karate, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, and other forms in UFC live events. UFC competitors or “Ultimate Fighters” are among the best-trained and conditioned athletes in the world. While this is a highly intense sport, fighter safety is of paramount concern to UFC ownership and management: it is noteworthy that no competitor has ever been seriously injured in a UFC event."
I bet some women viewers have been seriously injured making the universal hand signal for "gag me with a spoon". I'm just so embarrassed that a son of mine thinks it is appropriate to expect his special gal to sit idly next to him watching this stuff and making him feel like the pampered remote control sultan of cable t.v. I like it much better when they watch billiards or even the poker channel!
Of course these bells and buzzers in my head mean the topic has much more to do with me and my messed-up former marriage than about these two strong self-confident young equals. A decade ago my counselor told me that the girlfriends and wives of my sons would teach me lessons about myself that I needed to learn. Dagnabbit, Janie was right again! Seems like she told me my granddaughters would teach me, too. That will be an adventure! I hope it doesn't include Teletubbies.
Kyle Lee's July tenth story in the Dallas Morning News goes on to explain:
Carriers are testing a host of ways to get customers on board – letting passengers with window seats on first and then moving toward the aisles, or having travelers make their way to assigned seats in no particular order. For passengers, the changes can mean shaving a few minutes off the boarding process and avoiding the annoying inconvenience of clogged aisles. And for airlines, those few minutes can translate into millions of dollars in increased productivity by improving on-time performance and reducing the time that a plane sits on the ground. "The quicker you can do a turn, the more turns you can do during the course of a day," said John Romantic, who oversees airport policies and procedures for US Airways. "Every single minute counts."
Yes, indeedy, every single minute counts. Every single minute spent crouching under the overhead bin after your plane lands before you can escape from your window or middle seat increases your chance to 100% of being clonked on the head with an overstuffed wheely suitcase being pulled down from the overhead bin by Someone Entirely Too Important To Check His/Her Bags. This is the point in modern air travel that makes me consider the barf bag. Perhaps I was clonked once or twice to often, but I had a revelation.
I've been called to offer a divine boarding system handed down by a higher power. This isn't really a "God Is My Co-Pilot" bumber sticker moment, or even a "God Is My Underpaid Flight Attendant" lapel pin moment, but I have received the stone tablets, and the Extra-Strength Tylenol.
The higher power in this case is Little Rabbit Foo-Foo, who has been stuck in the overhead carry-on luggage bin. The Little Rabbit Foo-Foo* boarding system retains the three cattle chutes at Southwest gates:
Group A boards first to seats at the front of the plane. Group A is all passengers who have checked their baggage.
Group B boards next to seats behind those taken by Group A. Group B consists of all passengers intending to stow luggage in the overhead bins.
Group C boards last to seats behind those taken by Group B. Group C consists of all passengers who intended to stow luggage in the overhead bins but ignored the FAA size requirements for carry-on luggage. If flight attendants have to check luggage at the last moment, those passengers must sit at the back of the plane, put down their tray-tables, and write fifty times with dull #2 pencils on lined newsprint paper, "I'm a bad, bad baggage bunny, and I'll check my luggage from now on." Then they must put their heads down on the aforesaid tray-tables and take a little nap instead of having graham crackers and warm grape juice for snacktime.
When the plane arrives at the gate, Group A deplanes as soon as the pilot turns off the seat-belt sign. Members of Group B then clonk each other on the head with their wheely suitcases, and exit in survival-of-the-thickest-skull order. Group C members stay after school to erase the blackboards and clean the plane for the next flight.
You remember Little Rabbit Foo-Foo from Scouts and Camp Fire Girls. That bad bunny finally cleaned up his act, finished his MBA, wrote his thesis on comparative** airline boarding models, and became a gazillionaire:
*Little Rabbit Foo Foo
Little rabbit Foo Foo, hopping through the forest,
Scooping up the field mice, and bopping them on the head,
And down came the good fairy, and she said,
"Little rabbit Foo Foo, I don't want to see you
Scooping up the field mice, and bopping them on the head."
"I'll give you three chances, And then I'll turn you into a goon." But the very next day... (repeat the verse)
"I'll give you two more chances, And then I'll turn you into a goon." But the very next day... (repeat the verse)
"I'll give you one more chance, And then I'll turn you into a goon." But the very next day... (repeat the verse)
"I gave you three chances, So now I'll turn you into a goon." - Zap! The moral of the story is: "Hare today; goon tomorrow."
Little rabbit Foo Foo...: use two fingers as rabbit ears, hop your hand across in front of you
Scooping up the field mice: scoop up an invisible mouse, bop it on the head
Good fairy: wave arm as if holding a magic wand
I don't want to see you: wag index finger back and forth as "no"
**As they study ways to be more efficient, some airlines are rethinking how they load passengers on airplanes, while others stick to traditional back-to-front boarding. An overview:
Alaska Airlines: Abandoned its random boarding system in May to return to the rear-to-front method. Main cabin passengers board in two groups.
American: Continues to use traditional zone boarding. Premium-class passengers and most elite fliers board first, then the plane is loaded back to front.
Continental: Loads traditionally from back to front but has a priority lane for elite fliers.
Delta: Shifted to reverse-pyramid model in February. Passengers load from back to front, but those holding window and middle seats get on before those sitting on the aisle.
Northwest: Switched to open boarding in June. Passengers have seat assignments but board in the order they line up. Those in first class and business class and other elite fliers get a priority line.
Southwest: Begins testing assigned seats today on selected flights from San Diego. For years, one of the discounter's hallmarks has been open seating.
United: Starting last October, passengers load from the outside in, starting with those next to windows and ending with passengers seated along the aisle.
US Airways: Reverse pyramid was implemented by America West in 2003. The carrier merged with US Airways last year, and now the process is being rolled out for all routes.
The Dallas Morning News followed the fabulous reports of vultures eating pool noodles and windshield wipers with this heart-rending bird crisis report soon to be made into a major motion picture!
Residents lament: This is for the birds
Fairview: Cattle egrets leave mess, raise respiratory fears
"Thousands of the sleek white egrets migrate from Mexico and Central America each summer to roost in the towering woodlands that back up to homes along Summer Hill Lane in Fairview. The large, gregarious birds are plentiful throughout Collin County's rural blackland prairies where exclusive homes are tucked among the native trees beloved by egrets and homeowners alike... "
This histoplasmosic woe is the sad, but true tale of a couple who just...
"... looked forward to spending the summer in their backyard swimming pool with their two children and grilling in their new outdoor kitchen. But they've had no choice but to keep their children inside. A dusting of white feathers forms a film on the water and grass. Dried bird droppings cake their yard, and a fine, white mist irritates sinuses. It looks like snow, but it smells like the bottom of a bird cage,..."
The family raised a hoot and a holler about the health threat caused by the egret rookery. They've had an epidemiologist out to visit their $700,000 home, and have hired an attorney. There's a photo of their barefoot son squatting out in the yard poking sticks at a dead baby egret. Guess his mom didn't tell hime to wear shoes when he walks on all those caked bird droppings.
It's a sad, sad story for the real estate developer as well. The cattle egrets, little blue herons, and yellow-crowned night herons nesting in the block-long rookery are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Three lots slated for the development of $700,000 homes are off the market until the young birds leave the nests and new clueless buyers show up...
"'It became clear that we didn't have any option but to do the right thing, be good neighbors and wait until the egrets move on,' said Russell Rice, area president for David Weekley Homes, which owns the three lots... Mr. Rice said the law allows the trees to be cut or trimmed and the lots developed after the birds leave in the fall. He hopes the changes discourage the birds from returning in March... But in the meantime, the egrets rule the roost for at least two more months. "
Holy habitat, Batman! It's easy to do the right thing, be good neighbors, and wait, when nobody with working senses would buy the property!
And now for these memorable quotes from the 1966 Batman movie:
Robin: Holy bill of rights, Batman!
Robin: Holy haberdashery, Batman!
Robin: Holy priceless collection of Etruscan snoods!
Robin: Holy oleo! Catwoman: I didn't know you could yodel!
Batman: Let's go, Robin. We've set another youth on the road to a brighter tomorrow.
And let's all hope he's wearing shoes!
Thanks to the Dallas Morning News I learned of the troubles at Lake Bastrop park. The park had to shut down for awhile to deal with its increasing population of black vultures, which are an increasing annoyance with their habit of scratching vehicles and picking rubber objects. The whole situation sounds like a Heckle and Jeckle cartoon.
"Every morning, you've got to get up and run them off," said Martha Nickel, a camper at the park. "There are hundreds of them everywhere. It's amazing." In addition to leaving an abundance of excrement, the birds also pick the rubber off car windshields. Nickel said they pick at her cooking grill and destroyed her son's floating noodle. Park Director Susan Baxter-Harwell said the bird's are attracted to rubbery material because if feels like flesh.
Imagine what Alfred Hitchcock could have created if he had known about pool noodle-eating vultures!
*Buzzard is a misnomer for any New World vulture.
**Heckle and Jeckle were actually magpies.
You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store
I was born the same year Tennessee Ernie Ford's version of the 1946 Merle Travis song was recorded at Capitol Studios in Hollywood and sold over a million copies. Tennessee Ernie had a black and white tv show when I was little, and he had a mustache, and he looked a bit like my Uncle Swanee. I didn't understand why Ernie got to be "Tennessee Ernie". I thought I ought to be "Nebraska Nancy Lou" even if I didn't have a mustache. Tennessee Ernie Ford's signature sign-off was, "Bless your pea-pickin' heart!" In my youthful misconnected mind I thought "owing my soul" had something to do with shoe soles, and particularly with the Wells & Frost Shoe Store on "O" Street. I didn't shop at Wells and Frost. Brady's Juvenile Shoes was much closer to my dad's office, and to the Miller & Paine tea room with its famous macaroni and cheese and cinnamon rolls. Plus, Brady's store had giant rocking horses and funhouse mirrors .
I don't need an iPod, that's for sure! I've got entirely too many songs on constant tornadic rotation in my mental storm cellar. In Nebraska we head to the basement when tornado weather threatens. As kids in the era of Tennessee Ernie, my brother believed that a species of scary beings known as "The Gooeys" haunted our basement. Gooeys or no Gooeys, a basement is a good thing to have in tornado country when the sky turns that creepy green color.
A Cockeyed Optimist is the second song rattling around in my corn-popper brain:
When the skies are bright canary yellow
I forget ev'ry cloud I've ever seen,
So they called me a cockeyed optimist
Immature and incurably green.
I have heard people rant and rave and bellow
That we're done and we might as well be dead,
But I'm only a cockeyed optimist
And I can't get it into my head.
I hear the human race
Is fallin' on its face
And hasn't very far to go,
But ev'ry whippoorwill
Is sellin' me a bill,
And tellin' me it just ain't so.
I could say life is just a bowl of Jello
And appear more intelligent and smart,
But I'm stuck like a dope
With a thing called hope,
And I can't get it out of my heart!
I've got a full tank of things I can't get out of my head!
On my DART train trip to work a third song began to compete for attention with Tennessee Ernie and Kansas Nellie.
"Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms" seems to have been written by Charlie Monroe, and recorded by darn near everyone including Lester Flatt, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton, and possibly Alvin and the Chipmunks performing with the Grateful Dead. I didn't realize it could be a square dance!
Sides face, grand square
I ain't gonna work on the railroad
I ain't gonna work on the farm
I'll lay around this shack
Till the mail train comes back
Allemande left & weave the ring
Rolling in my sweet baby's arms
Dosado and promenade
I'll lay around the shack,
till the mail train comes back
Rolling in my sweet baby's arms
Three songs in my DART-riding brain crisscross paths:
1432, "of the trivium," from M.L. trivialis, from trivium "first three of the seven liberal arts," from L., lit. "place where three roads meet," from tri- "three" + via "road." The basic notion is of "that which may be found anywhere, commonplace, vulgar." The meaning "ordinary" (1589) and "insignificant" (1593) were in L. trivialis "commonplace, vulgar," originally "of or belonging to the crossroads." The verb trivialize is attested from 1846.
Trivial fun is found on a particularly splendid page of the Online Etymology Dictionary that includes "pipsqueak", "pun", "bullshit", "penny-ante", "snookums", and "quibble".
Cosmellision specialists are the technicians who can make your automohicularvebile all dent-free and painted just as purdy and sparkly as your toenails at the salon after your car crash. I would never have known about the art and science of cosmellision if I hadn't watched the local television commercials in Lincoln, Nebraska.
In my family it is quite normal to be asked, "Was anyone else was hurt in that accident?," when you show up at the breakfast table with bad bedhead. Remember those ribcord bedspreads from the Sears & Roebuck catalog? Nothing like falling asleep and waking up with one cheek all striped!
It might be better to climb under the covers next time. As a kid I enjoyed going to bed between fresh, clean, stiff sheets that had dried outside on the clothesline. The very best were the pink sheets for the brass bed at Grandma's house.
Most of my art students have never seen a clothespin before, let alone smelled clothes, sheets, and towels dried "out on the line". Just saying those words brings the remembered fresh laundry scent to life in my memory. Research indicates that olfactory memories are both our earliest formed and our last lost in life. Olfactory memories are usually linked to emotional memories. The scent memory of the line-dried pink sheets at Grandma's house evokes a wonderful sense of being loved, cherished, connected to family and neighbors, and tuned into the constant buzz of insects outside the window screens.
To a cataloging library person, a SEE ALSO* reference is the gift of many new lamps for old. Maybe our most primitive brain functions as a SCENT ALSO reference linking good food and family memories at a level so deep we rarely realize the connections. That might be the power of steamy, savory aromas of our comfort foods. If we were under siege, the scent memory of a baked potato with butter, pepper, and garlic sour cream would make me feel safe.
A World Cup announcer informed me that one team was "under seizure". Sure hope he meant "under siege here"! Could be a case of SIEGE ALSO:
*In some cases, “See also” or “See” entries appear when you enter a search. You will most often get “see also” and “See” entries when you have entered a subject search. These entries refer to Subject Headings that help you find items of interest when there are many possible words or terms used for one topic or when the term you entered is not an official Library of Congress Subject Heading. A “See” is a heading actually used in a full record. Click on that heading to redirect your search. A “see also” is another heading used in full records for other titles that may be of interest. Click on that heading to execute the same search with this new search term.
It's been a long day. Think I'll have a baked potato with all the toppings, then crawl into bed.
At the moment I am ever so relieved to have an air conditioned condo! Yes, Freon is a chlorofluorocarbon depleting the ozone layer, but, geez, Al, the continent of Texas is uninhabitable without it.
Last night was miserable. I was working away and muttering about heat and humidity after four days in surprisingly lovely Lincoln, Nebraska. Was it climate readjustment difficulty, or just that fifty-something female thermostat challenge?
It wasn't just in my head. The thermostat said eighty-seven. The condo had been heating gradually like the parable of the frog in a kettle.** I finally fell asleep on the living room carpet, as my bedroom was unbearable. During dreams of roll-on deodorants marching across the Isthmus of Panama I tossed and turned. Roll-on, roll-up. Roll-on, roll-up.
Dad's car in Nebraska is also freon deficient. One of the windows rolls down, but not necessarily up. You have to keep driving around raising the window a quarter inch every mile or so should you forget and try to enjoy a cool evening breeze. It's as if the late Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi was instructing the "Karate Kid" to wax on, wax uh, wax uh, wax uh, wax uh, wax uh, wax uf, wax uf, wax uf, wax off, wax OFF. My car has been through this same ailment.
Fre-on, Fre-off. Fre-on, Fre-off. I tried to remain philosophical and detached while deriving many of the sweat purification benefits of the trendy hot yoga or a Swedish sauna. Woke up feeling head-achy from dehydration. I was starting to see mirages.
Look! There's Creon in Sophocle's Antigone riding on a General Mills Fruit Roll-Up. Cleon was a different Greek during the Peloponnesian War, not to be confused with Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel on The Simpsons, or to any Star Trek Klingons. In dreams fueled by last Tuesday's Dallas Morning News*** suggestion to use Febreeze on your hair for less locker room time after work-outs, I began to see the inner workings of my HVAC system being manned by sweaty, tattooed hobbits dribbling basketballs. Someone was calling, "Frodo! Frodo, come back!," like that kid in Shane.
Carry-on luggage is at the heart of this mess. Frodo is in the overheated overhead storage bin along with some frogs. I woke up half dead [see carrion, or Carry On by Kansas.]
Freon! Freon, come back with your registered trademark! Please!
*The trade name Freon ® is a registered trademark belonging to E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company (DuPont).
**They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger. But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late. The frog's survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes.
***A QUICK BRUSH-UP
Local hair stylists Melissa Renee Merket and Janelle Edwards offer these tips to keep your hair healthy and manageable – quickly – after a workout:
Use Febreze on your hair to freshen up. (Yes, Febreze – it's light and non-oily and has a mild fragrance.)
I don't know if the experience is so powerful because I have seen the ceremony only a few times. Would it lose its meaning if I saw it everyday? If so, perhaps the Pentagon's ban is actually keeping Americans from losing their outrage over the senseless loss of life in Iraq and Afghanistan. I need to believe that U.S. soldiers are the epitome of respect, honor, duty, and sacrifice. I need to see the flag-folding presentation ceremony as a beautiful expression of gratitude by all of us to the widows and families who have experienced the ultimate loss for this country's and the world's good. I want the ceremony to represent the best of our nation, not the throw-away attitude of a greedy oligarchy.
Perhaps I'm still the third-grader watching the Marines in their dress uniforms and gloves folding the flag that covered JFK's casket, then solemnly presenting it to Jackie. I watched the funeral procession on a black and white television. My memory was colorized by LIFE Magazine images in red, white, blue, black and pink. It remembers John-John saluting and the riderless horse. It recalls a nation's hope for a government of ideals and chivalry lost to an assassin's bullets.
As an art teacher, I wonder if my fascination with folding spatial exercises was inspired by a President's funeral. Can the orderly transformation of a rectangle into a triangle reconnect any of us with higher aspirations, peaceful methods, a respect for other peoples and nations, or a resolve to prevent the squandering of a single American soldier's life? If a child's brain can grasp the process of changing a two-dimensional surface through a three-dimensional manipulation, could our elected officials grasp a process for changing the world without destroying it?
Fold carefully. Fold mindfully. Fold with sorrow, grief, respect, honor, courage, hope, gratitude. Match corners to corners. Use one hand to keep the corners together while the other hand creases from the center out to the edges very neatly and precisely. Fold with calm and peace and breathing. Fold each new piece with the same clarity of purpose and respect for the paper as you did the first time. Have patience. Refold the map the way it was before. There is a reason for doing things this way. Find the reason in your heart. Act the reason in your life everyday.
Camoranesi has been playing with his hair pulled back in an oxbow type bun wrapped with string or cloth. Though he plays for Italy, he is Argentine. His facial structure is reminiscent of ancient tribes and races. He could be a Mayan ballplayer playing a life or death game, a Plains Indian brave counting coup, an Eskimo hauling in a whale, or a Samurai warrior:
Samurai warriors took great care styling their hair, which they pulled back into a topknot called a "chomage." For battle, samurai warriors shaved the tops of their heads, which reduced the heat under their heavy helmets, and wore their hair straight on the sides. When not wearing helmets, they pulled the side and back hair into a topknot.
"Topknot" or whatnot, this soccer player's choice of hairstyle has been given yellow cards by many fans on web chats. Some have called it a "geisha onion bun". My middle son felt that soccer was an inferior sport because it didn't involve hats. My youngest felt it was a superior sport for the same reason. I appreciate the lack of tattoos compared to hatless basketball.
Soccer may descend from the oldest of all organized sports, the Mesoamerican ball game. Watching Camoranesi, the word "pelota" popped into my brain. Pelota? Wasn't that Spanish for ball? When I got to googling "pelota" I found one of the best educational websites ever, The Sport of Life and Death: The Mesoamerican Ballgame. You've got to check it out!
That's about when I realized that the recording cassette had run out again, and I had missed recording another game-making moment for my son. Soccer is still a life or death game for those of us in charge of the VCR!
In the waiting room at the OB/gyn I complimented another lady-in-waiting on her big purse, saying I'd been looking for a big purse for my upcoming air travel. She took a quick appraisal of my new bag, and nervously began telling me the entire story of her life and of her daughter's European travels. Clearly, she was hoping the attendants from Chumley's Rest would arrive and take me back to the sanitarium if she could keep me distracted long enough.
Watch me pull a pooka out of my purse!
The good thing about the purse is it is large enough to hold an imaginary six foot tall rabbit, or a pooka. It is bringing me good luck, in that it's been raining here in drought-afflicted Plano off and on ever since I bought it. I'm hoping Jimmy Stewart will sit next to me on the plane:
Harvey is a pooka, which is described in the movie as, "From old Celtic mythology, a fairy spirit in animal form, always very large. The pooka appears here and there, now and then, to this one and that one. A benign but mischievous creature very fond of rumpots, crackpots, and...."
My sister sent my sons a Reading Rainbow book, Gila Monsters Meet You At the Airport, when they were small. When we look for each other at the airport this week, she needs to think "Hula Rabbits"!
1657, from Gk. oxymoron, noun use of neut. of oxymoros (adj.) "pointedly foolish," from oxys "sharp" (see acrid) + moros "stupid." Rhetorical figure by which contradictory terms are conjoined so as to give point to the statement or expression; the word itself is an illustration of the thing. Now often used loosely to mean "contradiction in terms."
Thanks to the New York Times for catching me up about the top ten audio file of Vincent Ferrari's call trying to "Cancel AOL". I also enjoyed Brian Finkelstein's video on YouTube: "A Comcast Technician Sleeping on my Couch".
I've spent a ridiculous amount of time this week trying to return calls to a State Farm claims investigator about a bike/car accident I witnessed a few Sundays ago. She needs something from me, but I have invested my time first in listening to her phone messages numerous times to write down all her phone numbers, extensions, and claim ID numbers. Then I've squandered many minutes going through the State Farm automated phone menu to punch in the extension number, only to be misdirected to a switchboard or informed that the claim investigator was out of the office. She seems to be calling from a blocked number outside of office hours. Leaving her a message isn't possible. So I'm just going to put it out here in cyberspace: It was the kid on the bike's fault. The accident was entirely preventable. If you want my help, don't waste my time.
The Wright Amendment was created by congressional compromise when DFW Airport was built to allow a young whippersnap airline called Southwest to continue flying from the smaller, old Love Field in the city of Dallas. The Wright compromise permitted Southwest flights from Love to adjacent states only. It has been modified over the years to include Missouri destinations, but it will always be an issue in North Texas because Texans, even more than most populations, despise being limited in any manner.
Southwest is a successful airline now, partly because it uses lots of smaller city airfields. The enormous American Airlines is based at DFW. I'm pretty open to many solutions to continuing Wright issues, including closing Love completely and redeveloping the area with a new urbanism mix of uses. I'd like to see good light rail transportation to DFW in place, though, before Love is phased out.
At the moment, my air transportation concerns are more personal and pressing. I need a purse for my flights. A travel purse must meet size and security specifications. It MUST stay closed, so my groovy little green purse flunks out. It must be big enough to hold a camera, a water bottle, cellphone, snacks, a paperback book, a newspaper, and my prescriptions, in addition to the stuff I haul around in normal life. It must be age-appropriate, and hold its shape. That means no sequins, crochet, fringe, big-eyed puppy dogs, fraying edges, or Lawrence Welkish embroidered pastel flowers. It should sort of coordinate with both my green and my black sandals. And then there's the need for it to be at least 40% off. I don't want the TSA folks to wand me because my purse is just too aesthetically-challenged or full-price to be believed. Terrorists always carry ugly purses. They rarely wear green sandals or worry about paying their Kohl's charge card bill when they return from vacation.
And so, I have this purse that just demands an airplane ride. When it arrives at Eppley Airfield it will be expecting leis and alohas. Few things whisper swaying hips and gentle breezes like a Missouri River oxbow.
Early this week I had a magical commute in which a young man with neon red spiked hair, a nose ring like Ferdinand the bull's, and colorful tattoos from his pinkies to his armpits was the most polite person on the train. He was the one who gave up his seat for the elderly lady. She's still in shock, but should be released from the hospital soon.
I love the attitude I'm finding on mass transit. There is a sense of community I don't find often enough in this city. Maybe when I'm driving in my private fossil fuel-consuming device I am insulated from good parts of life! Riders seem willing to help each other, although it is mostly in an anonymous fashion. We tell the bus driver thank-you when we disembark because it adds to the positive nature of our day. Gratitude makes life nicer.
I love the mysteries of mass transit. It's not just the maps, codes, and schedules, although I'm fond of my new-gained secret handshake. I love suddenly discovering a door under the expressway that looks like a secret hobbit hole. I've driven through this intersection for six or seven years without spying that door. When I'm driving I don't get to see that the mentally-challenged man on the bus is bobbing his head to the exact same beat as the silvery purple pigeon up in the concrete I-beams of the bridge.
Riding home, I marveled at the man wearing rollerblades who had boxing gloves hanging over his shoulder. My kids and I had a lot of fun a decade ago rollerblading in the Latter Day Saints' parking lot. As long as I was on flat ground I could skate okay, but I never learned to stop without smashing into a fence. How on earth did this guy climb the stairs at the station and get on the train? Where was he going to skate with his boxing gloves? Would he listen to his iPod while he bladed and boxed? Did he ever see that cartoon with the boxing kangaroo?
On Friday I watched a man ride his unicycle down Arapaho Road. True, he wore spandex bike shorts and a helmet, but everything else in his bearing suggested that he would soon put on his suit and bowtie to consider our loan applications. Good things are happening! The circus must be coming to town! I feel like singing about the Wells Fargo wagon with little Opie.
Bopped up to Albertsons tonight to get some sliced ham and kaiser rolls. An ancient Karmann Ghia from Tennessee missing its window glass was parked next to the cart return shoot.
Karmann Ghias always make me laugh. During a teen church choir trip back in high school I received a Karmann Ghia revelation that males are significantly different from females. It was dark. We had performed our concert in Grant, Nebraska, or some similar town. Then we mingled with the natives and ate lots of jello salads with marshmallows. The tenors and basses went outside the old church to jump down from the top of the steep stone steps under the glare of a yellow streetlight with all the insects buzzing around. The girls crowded into the restroom to curl their eyelashes. Both options seemed pretty scary to me, but the guys had more breathing room. I didn't jump, but I watched the testosterone daredevil exhibition of city choir kids vs. local heroes. Back on the charter bus, we lit up some ridiculous cherry Swisher Sweets, coasting on a wave of comraderie. The bus seemed to drive ever so slowly. Boys looked out the bus windows and announced the sighting of a Karmann Ghia. They wanted the bus driver to race the Karmann Ghia, but the car was passing the bus. The tenors and basses seemed to think this was an affront to their manhood.
Being me, I looked out the bus window thinking I would see a Hindu leader wearing a turban and driving a small car in the right lane. Confused karma! The boys were exasperated as they explained the situation. They ranted about Karmann Ghias, and how the cars were propelled by hamsters and rubber bands. My brain was overloaded. Just the day before yesterday I had learned about hot roast beef sandwiches (think Wonder Bread and mashed potatoes served with an ice cream scoop). It was just too much to take in.
I'm not a religious person, but I do offer up this prayer nearly every day,
Let me be receptive. Restore to me my capacity to wonder.
To that I add,
You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free
Amen, and pass the mashed potatoes!
I can't say from personal FIFA experience, but I was ready to riot a few times at the University of Nebraska's Memorial Stadium back in my Cornhusker football game days. My movements were too slowed by layers of long underwear, itchy wool sweaters, and parkas to create a much of a civil Charmin disturbance, though.
My son left me at home today in charge of the VCR for the World Cup quarterfinal games while he went forth to his gainful employment. I'm not really certified in VCR recording, but I was the only available live being. (I'm still trying to deal with the color contrast adjustments on my tv throughout World Cup games.) You took the S.A.T. with those analogies! Collagemama is to VCR as preschooler is to scissors.
And so, I am sad to report, the cassette ran out at the only critical point of the quarterfinal. I did not notice, since I was paying attention to the play. When my son returns from Jamba Juice he will settle on the couch to watch the game ... and then...YIKES! There hasn't been such a sports calamity since the Heidi NFL game of 1968! Hope they make lederhosen in my size, as I'll be hiding out in the Alps.