2/28/11

Trout lilies herald spring


  These flowers on the Sycamore Trail at the Heard Nature Sanctuary were lovely, but they were just the opening act for the trout lilies on the Hoot Owl Trail. 

  This delicate but strong plant poking up to bloom at the earliest hint of spring is absolutely Juliet.




  The spotted leaves poking up through the layer of organic debris is as refreshing a sight as spotted trout in a cold mountain stream.  Grab the sunlight.  Shimmer and reflect.

   The unfolding petals are the slashings on Romeo's sleeves.
 


© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

Library collection count

Adding two new libraries to my life list, bringing my count to sixty-two.  Today I visited the Carrollton Public Library at Hebron & Josey.  It seemed like a user-friendly, efficient public library with helpful staff.  I'll be presenting a program about worms and worm composting at the library during the Texas Summer Reading Program.  The theme this year is "Dig Up a Good Book", hence the worm connection.
 
 

I was delighted to finally stand by one of the New York Public Library lions.  I've wanted to do that since I heard Andy and the Lion on Captain Kangaroo's tv show in the early Sixties.  Andy is one of my heroes.  He checks out library books AND he keeps pliers in his back pocket.  Between wire sculpture and Buick difficulties, I often have pliers in my back pocket.  James Daugherty's picture book was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1939.  Just realized when I was asking students to squeeze the clay with all their might last week, I was channeling Andy!

Andy braced one foot against the lion's paw
and pulled with all his might
until the thorn
 CAME
OUT.
© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/27/11

Golden girls stake claims for retirement living

Home is where the heart is. 
She had a heart of gold. 
Don't put me in the home. 
There's no place like home. 
Home-cooking good looking, whatcha got?  Hey?
Home room and other scary flashbacks to junior high.


Geez.  What if being "put in the home" is a return to seventh grade Home Room?  Old age is already hell.  Don't make it worse by making me twirl the dial of a junior high locker combination with arthritic fingers! 
For years now my walking buddy and I have been scoping out sites for our retirement living in corrugated refrigerator boxes along the creek.  Sadly, this game has become a likely future.  So far, we don't believe economist reports of improved conditions.  Gas and grocery prices climbed again this week.  Imagining spending my last ten bucks on plain label Saran Wrap to weatherproof the refrigerator box is not what I call "consumer confidence".



I would rather go live in a milkweed pod or tiny bird's nest, dress in lichen, and sip tea from acorn caps. I'm planning to co-star in the movie, "Honey, I Shrunk the Seniors" with Rick Moranis.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

Hell and salvation

It's nutrition time again in the preschool class.  The youngest children are learning the names of foods.  The older kids are sorting foods into a wooden food pyramid.  Have you had any "grotein" today?



On Fridays a student brings special snacks for the class.  This week it was a snack from hell--twenty-one individual cups of diced peaches in heavy syrup.  Can you say sssssSTICKY?  So we got the children into their coats, then hauled the peaches to the playground, along with napkins, spoons, wet wipes, a sack for trash, a sack for recyclables, a sack for saving the spoons to be washed, a bowl for draining the heavy syrup, a tray for serving, a first aid kit, and the 911 emergency buzzer.  We also took the kid who just hit another child over the head with a rolled-up rug.


I opened the fruit cups.  The lead teacher drained the heavy syrup.  Our oldest student carried the fruit cups on a tray to serve classmates at the picnic tables.  This is a big part of a Montessori class. 

With just two cups left on the tray, our server tripped.  I gasped.  The lead teacher gasped.  He gasped.  Somehow in slow motion he held the tray steady as he fell.  The peaches did not spill.  It was a Super Bowl instant replay
moment,  absolutely golden as he realized he had saved the day!  It was as big a relief as finally landing at La Guardia.

I sat with a group of four year olds to eat and play name-that-food. 

Me:  I don't think these are carrots.
#1:  Yes they are carrots.
#2:  No, they are mangos.
#1:  They are carrots.  They taste like carrots.
#3:  I think I know I think I know IthinkIknowIthinkIknow...

Me:  What do you think?
#3:  Peaches! 
Me:  You are right.  These are peaches.
#1:  No they aren't.  They are raccoons.


Which reminds me of an old elephant joke:

What is the difference between an elephant and a dozen eggs?


If you don't know, I'm not sending you to the store for eggs!



[Raccoon at the Heard Museum, McKinney, TX, yesterday.]
 
© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/26/11

Decreasing altitude over a golden NYC

Except for the wind, it was magical.  My fairy godmother AKA my newest daughter-in-law was flying me into the City That Never Sleeps for Danger Baby's twenty-sixth birthday surprise.


We were definitely humping and bumping in our little AirTran jet from Atlanta as we neared La Guardia. Beginning our descent I was loving the golden twinkly lights of New York, recognizing the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, and admiring the lights of the bridges.  Descending lower I noticed a large sculpture of the Earth.  But wait, we were ascending again and still bumping around like crazy.  The pilot came on the speaker to tell us our aircraft is equipped with a wind sheer alert system, and we couldn't land at this time. 
We would circle counter-clockwise again over the twinkly golden lights.  Then we would circle clockwise, and everyone on the plane would concentrate on breathing IN 1-2-3 and exhaling OUT 1-2-3.  We went past the Earth sculpture again.

To barf or not to barf?  That is the question.  I don't want to retrieve the paper barf bag because my sister says that back seat pouch is the home of all Cooties.  Anxiety, I know, is "the shallow breathing of a narrowed mind".  I really don't want to be the first passenger to move from narrowed mind to "chunky industrial-weight puke"* and I don't want to reach into Cootie Central.

There goes that Earth sculpture again.  It is the Unisphere from the 1964 NY World's Fair. Must have read about it in my Weekly Reader that year! 

It's time to visualize Ryan and Ramius steering the Red October submarine up the Penobscot River in Maine and reminiscing about fishing.  Breathe in/breathe out.  Focus on Sean Connery as Admiral Ramius.  Always a good visualization...Breathe in/breathe out.

The pilot lands our AirTran.  We burst into simultaneous applause.  Life is good.  I'm glad to be done with the bonus air sightseeing tour of NYC.  My stomach is one chunk away from industrial-weight! 

*Radioman [shouting amiably over the engines] So you don't like flyin', huh? This is nothin'! You shoulda been with us five, six months ago! Whoa, talk about puke! We ran into a hailstorm over the Sea of Japan! Everyone was retchin' his guts out! The pilot shot his lunch all over the windshield, and I barfed on the radio - knocked it out completely! It wasn't that lightweight stuff, either; it was that chunky, industrial-weight puke! [proferring a candy bar] Here, ya wanna bite?


Jack Ryan: [through clenched teeth] Next time you get a bright idea, Jack, put it in a memo!


© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

The Itty Bitty Golden Age

Coming soon to a blog near you, yellow and gold.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

Amendments regarding bubble printmaking

Bubble therapy participation should be limited to folks of any age who know the difference between blowing into a straw and drinking from a straw:
  1. The same kid who regularly gets his head stuck in the sleeve of his art shirt went home from school with a
  2. Blue tongue today because he didn't get the memo about how to use a drinking straw.
  3. The art teacher tried to pinch his straw before the soap/paint mix got in his mouth, but her reflexes are slow.
  4. Much as it is a bad manner, it is a very successful practice for this skill if your child blows the wrapper off the drinking straw everytime you go to McDonalds.
  5. And then you can make a straw wrapper snake.
  6. As a Learning Experience/Opportunity For Growth, getting a mouthful of soapy paint will quickly convince you not to do that again!
Bubble therapy should be closely monitored for folks of any age who can't tell if their straw is submerged in the soapy paint:
  1. If you can't hold the straw down into the soapy paint in the hummus container you will get blue freckles.  Are you a blueberry muffin?
  2. Make sure you aren't going to lose your damage deposit by accidentally redecorating the walls of your apartment!
  3. Dad has redecorated several walls using his electric toothbrush.  In the move we lost his rechargeable toothbrush.  This is just as well.  Dad would turn it on at arm's length and spray minty fresh Colgate 360 degrees.
Coffee therapy is a highlight in Dad's life.  He only gets to drink coffee if I bring him a cup.  After his bad burn from spilled scalding hot coffee last fall his caregivers won't take that risk:
  1. Dad's tremor makes it difficult to reach out and grasp the styrofoam cup, or to set it back on his wheely tray table.
  2. Dad becomes a crazed addict whenever he gets a whiff of java.
  3. Grabbing your coffee cup and trying to sip the hot liquid while lying flat on your back during a Depends change = BAD.
Basic checklist:
  1. Sit up for coffee
  2. Blow out for soap
  3. Practice "opposites" work
  4. In/out, hot/cold, sit/recline
© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/25/11

Someday my prince will bowl



See the princess with the bow in her hair?  I didn't either.  Small students were working on a collage of things that begin with S.  They were choosing images from a basket well-stocked with pictures of shells, ships, socks, soccer, smiles, sheep, snakes, snowflakes, plus sugar and spice and everything nice.

This is a bad cellphone photo, but you get the idea of their collage collaboration.  They found pictures of a snowman, spaghetti, the space shuttle, and Snow White!  Yes, that brunette with the bow in her hair must be Snow White, or at least Annette Funicello.

On a more serious note, Dad can no longer remember his SSN#, and he is hazy about his date of birth. This is complicating matters as we try to update his mailing address with various financial, insurance, and governmental entities. Banks want to chat with Dad about these security issues. Dad can hardly hold the cellphone to his ear, and he is pulling random numbers out of the air.


My parents did a great job of preparing for cremation, do-not-resuscitate orders, power of attorney, and many financial transitions. They faced their own mortality, stashed away funds for their old age, paid off their mortgage, and tried to arrange their affairs. Still, they couldn't visualize my father outliving his younger wife. They didn't realize their art teacher/power of attorney daughter would be so dense. They avoided the scenario of long-term care in a skilled nursing facility with vastly decreased cognitive abilities. Who can blame them? Who wants to imagine themselves in that picture?

 

Can you say s-s-s-s-SCARY?
© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

Bad manners and bubble therapy

  For all those times your mom wouldn't let you blow bubbles in your milkshake or soda at a restaurant, there is bubble therapy.  The kids loved it.  I love the prints we are getting.

In a clean, shallow hummus container put 1/2 tsp. dishwashing soap.  Add liquid watercolors and a little bit of black ink.  Cover table well.  Take off your eyeglasses!  Wear a smock.  Use a drinking straw to blow bubbles in the soapy paint until you have a big dome of bubbles above the container rim.  Set paper on the bubbles to catch a print.
© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/23/11

Won't you be my darling?

Some weeks have seven Wednesdays.  Life is more Seussy than usual, so I need to rent a seven hump Wump.  Can I make a reservation online @ MrGump.com?

The three year old is singing to herself (at considerable volume) as she works:

Humping along in my little red wagon
Humping along in my little red wagon
Humping along in my little red wagon
Won'tcha be my darling?


She doesn't know any other verses.  She doesn't know any other connotations, thank heaven, as in "your sister's cocker spaniel kept humping the coffee table leg".

My sons learned a more mechanical version of the song:

Who's gonna fix my little red wagon?
One wheel's off and the axel's dragging
not to mention the blinker light from Hell.
Won'tcha pay the mechanic's bill?

My sister learned the song from her Australian preschool teacher who carried a bumpershoot on rainy days:


Chucking along in my little red wagon
Chucking along in my little red wagon
Chucking along in my little red wagon
... Won't you be my darling?

Efforts to track the expression "chucking along" ran off the rails. It is frequently used, sometimes instead of "chugging along".  We would like to hope that expression has more to do with railroad trains than brewskis.

The most common version of the children's song starts out:

Bumping up and down in my little red wagon...



Teaching an introductory clay lesson, my Hump Day morning was spent transforming lumps.  No time to stare at my reflection!  No time to be idle!  No time for a roll in ze hay or in ze red wagon!

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: You know, I'm a rather brilliant surgeon. Perhaps I can help you with that hump.
Igor: What hump?


© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/22/11

Not a right angle in the bunch

Flat on his back in bed, Dad scans the suspended ceiling left to right, right to left, toes to head, and back again.  His eyes are watering.  He says he's been doing "close work all day long". After one bite-size Milky Way, Dad asks, "What do you call a full volleyball court?"  This is not an elephant riddle.

After my bite-size Milky Way I remind Dad I don't know much about volleyball.  Any version I played in junior high PE class was very tame.  I just tried to move any ball that I couldn't avoid away ASAP to become someone else's problem.  I tried to become ill enough to go to the nurse's office before any chance of my having to "serve".  Thank heaven there would be a written test over the rules and rotations of volleyball so I could cancel out my hideous skills drills results!  Dad chuckles, seeming to recognize my self portrait. 

There's some very serious athletic womens' competitive volleyball out there.  Did Dad see some on t.v. today?  "No," he reports, "I don't need t.v. to see volleyball."  Yikes.  There's some seriously demented spectator ceiling volleyball going on out there!  And the court is not square.

"There's not a right angle in the bunch," Dad says.  He claims to have worked all day starting at the upper right hand corner to correct the problem.  He couldn't get any help from "all the people crowding in here", no doubt wearing hard hats.  Dad's mind has jumped from the grids of the volleyball net to his many construction site review gigs as a structural engineer.  We climb around the infinite Escher staircases and weave through the unraveling graph paper of the mind.


I sit for many minutes, eyes closed, knees sore. Climbing stairs in and out of the NY subway stations and the grander Metropolitan Museum of Art, I'm tired. "How far off is it?," I vaguely ask Dad. "Will it get worse than 89 degrees?" No, Dad assures me. It's only a little way off.

Walked through this public hall on Wall Street Saturday afternoon.  M.C. Escher was there playing volleyball. 

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/21/11

Unwrapped and dezipped


Home from a surprise birthday trip to You Nork, You Nork to see Danger Baby.  His amazing bride cooked up this plan before Thanksgiving, and it has been so difficult keeping the secret! 

Need to do some research on this sherry decanter set I took the dear couple as a gift.  This was my parents' set, and I'm pretty sure my father shipped it to the States from Austria at the end of World War II.  Alas, earning a living might interfere with this interesting endeavor.

The TSA didn't give me a round of applause for my innovative and cheap protective wrapping of the glassware for the dangerous journey through security scanning and overhead bins.  I'm thankful my little red rolling suitcase waited until the return trip to blow out its zipper.  Now it is going to that big baggage claim in the sky!

Why isn't there a cable tv reality show about airport security and baggage handlers?  At LaGuardia I watched families unravelling when their 8:00 a.m. departures were repeatedly delayed eventually until 3:30 p.m.  It wasn't pretty.  Some contestants' mascara ran down their cheeks.  Some husbands went to speak to the airline representative at Gate B5.  They took a wrong turn and they never came back to their obnoxious bickering kiddies no longer able to share the electronic game toy.  It was way more riveting than most cop shows or talent auditions.

Now passengers can bring itty widdle doggies in nylon yurts as carry-on luggage.  What happens when those doggies must deal with flight delays and extended time stuck on the tarmac waiting to take-off?  I feel their pain!

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/18/11

2/17/11

"Who are these people?"

For a long time Dad resembled Henry Fonda playing Norman Thayer in "On Golden Pond".  They wore the same hats.  I never did look much like Jane Fonda playing his daughter even back in 1981, especially not in a bikini. 

For thirty years now, "Who are these people?," has been a joke line in our family.  We didn't have a cottage or loons, but we had plenty of old photos sitting around. 

Now Dad's loony questions have become his obsession.  For a week he's been struggling to sort out the names of two grandchildren and their dog.  He canoes all around the issue, but can't quite express his question.  He worries about this every waking moment.  These moments are fewer and farther between, but are as likely to be at midnight as noon.  Today he asked me about "Nadine and Hogan" wondering what were "their short first names?" 



Don't know why I didn't try this days ago.  Wrote cue cards in very big letters and tacked them on Dad's bulletin board.  Scoped it out to be sure he could see them when he is sitting up in bed.  It won't help when he's flat on his back in the middle of the night, though.

There's no Hogan, but there is Logan The Dog.

Dad and I both have ET, essential tremor.  It's a very common progressive non-fatal inherited neurological disorder.  Mine is mainly in my right arm, and is aggravated by stress, fatigue, and overuse.  Good vibrations from car wash spray wands, power tools, mowers, and weed-whackers are the worst. 

Katharine Hepburn had ET, too.  Ethel Thayer should have tacked up some cue cards for Norman.  Katharine and I send this advice for Dad while I'm "out of pocket"*:

"Don't be an old poop."

*"Out of pocket" is not limited to medical expenses unreimbursed by insurance.  "Out of pocket" is Texan for unreachable by any communication device.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

Car wash



At this point in winter we are all tired of sand, salt, slush, and bird poop on our vehicles, even the preschoolers!  Still in rapture from Sunday's cleansing of the Buick's exterior.  Acted out the process with the kiddies today:
  • Buckle up
  • Steady, smooth, and safe with that steering wheel
  • Get the quarters out of your pockets
  • What I really like is giving the male impulse to shoot guns a different storyline with the car wash spray wand complete with sound effects.
  • Kids are fascinated by the big foam brush.  Could you give an elephant a bath with one of those?
  • Trying to teach three year olds to make windshield wiper arms was hilarious.
  These people seem to have there noses pressed to the car window to watch the spray.  It's a funny impression since the 6 year old boy didn't give them noses.

 
8 year old girl knows her car wash.

 
This car looks like it has angel wings.

 
In the tunnel?

Watercolor painting with Q-tips, washable markers, soap, silver, medium, transparency film (for windshields), and crayons.  Clean machines!

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/15/11

"One of those girls must be seven feet tall."

The pink Dora lunchbox zipper broke.  As it traveled around the three sides, the zipper teeth meshed, then gaped, then meshed.  Wrote a note to the mom.  Tomorrow my student will have a new pink lunchbox for her bologna sandwich.

Dad's thinking travels around three sides alternately meshing and gaping.  Wrote a note to the doctor, but Dad will not have a new brain tomorrow.  We are going to have to deal with the unmeshed teeth, confounding gaps, and frequent leaks.  We will have to deal with it in a kind, gentle, nonconfrontational way.  Telling Dad he's full of baloney doesn't do either of us any good.  I might hum that Oscar Mayer song  as a coping device, though.

Dad was eating tuna salad and cornbread for supper, and shoveling it in pretty well, so I didn't interrupt.  Instead I wondered why my wheelchair-confined father was wearing windstop nylon jogging pants with reflective stripes down the sides.  These are NOT Dad's pants.  Maybe they belong to the seven foot girl.  Maybe Watson could shed some light here.

I was curious about the "Jeopardy" show with Ken Jennings and Watson, the IBM computer.  Dad was sufficiently glad to have my company to let me watch part of the show.  My three-sided zipper brain malfunctioned trying to explain the computer search process for natural language puns as if I understood them!

Dad was in bed staring at the billowing hospital drape in front of his open window when I arrived Monday.  His aide had opened the window to the seventy degree afternoon breeze, but left his heater set at seventy-two.  Dad seemed to think very tall girls were hiding behind the drape and wiggling it.  This is the same Dad that thinks boys are playing leapfrog behind his bed and that I am Tall Alice.  The hospital drape on its curved ceiling track is beyond his comprehension.  When I scooted the drape down the track so the wind wouldn't catch it, Dad asked where all the girls went.  "Did they just shoot straight up?"  Yes, Scotty, the seven foot tall girls beamed up!

Like Alex Trebek, quoted in Sunday's Washington Post, I'm not worried about being replaced by a computer:

"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek isn't afraid he'll be replaced by a machine. "It's a possibility," Trebek told me recently, "but it won't happen for a few years." After all, the machine would require "infinite patience, great wisdom, a sense of humor, which is hard to build into a computer. And tenderness when dealing with contestants."

Oh, Lordy, save me from the seven foot tall girls wiggling the drape and send a double dose of tenderness for dealing with the contestant!

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

A bad night of isthmus

All night it seemed I was teaching in a giant lecture amphitheater.  The subject of my lecture defied my pronunciation.  I could not say "Peloponnesian Penninsula" to save my life.  The map for the lecture was displayed improbably at the top/back of the theater, behind all the students.  I had to gallop up the steps, get their attention, ask everyone to turn around, and then explain the map.  Then back down the steps to the podium.  Back and forth, this exercise would have burned thousands of calories in real life.  Breathless is not the way to say "Peloponnesian Penninsula".  Why?  I have no idea, but I will give some attention to arranging my real-life classroom teaching aids.



© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/14/11

Friends make the world go round

The preschool students worked together to make these cards for the elementary students and teachers.  They did most of the work while I was off teaching cyclamen Valentine art in the lunchroom, or helping the nappers settle down, so I was amazed at the results.  The lead teacher came up with the idea from a picture of stick figures circling the globe, and from the discovery of a box of "worry dolls".

The children exchanged Valentines this morning.  There were more handmade cards than I can ever recall, either made by the child or by the child with a parent.  Another fun card was printed on photo paper with two snapshots of the student.  That one will be a keeper.

There weren't many Disney princess or Barbie cards this year, although I still work in a severely magenta sequin ballet tutu environment.  Outfits that just a few years ago would have been worn on Halloween, as a flower girl in a wedding, or for dress-up playtime at home are now considered appropriate everyday school attire.  Those get-ups don't scare me nearly as much as pants that proclaim "SWEET" or "JUICY" across the rear (although frequently worn backwards by preschoolers).  I can't imagine ever sending my sons off to Mothers-Day-Out or kindergarten in shorts with words on the rear or fly, let alone pants that announced "STUD" or "HUNK".  I was just praying the boys would get to the restroom in time and then remember to flush, zip, and wash their hands!

I'm looking forward to reading Peggy Orenstein's book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter:  Dispatches from the Front Line of the New Girlie Girl Culture, having read the NYTimes and ALA Booklist reviews.  Fifty years ago we played dress-up princesses in our mothers' old peignoirs and petticoats, although some girl always had to be the stepmother in a terrycloth bathrobe or the queen in a creepy fox stole.  On a good afternoon it might be your turn to be the princess and meet Prince Charming. Girls now seem to feel entitled to be The Princess all day everyday.

Now it just ain't right to take photos of total strangers in public places, especially if those strangers are children.  If only I could have!  Lunching at Corner Bakery, I watched a four year old girl enter with her father.  She was dressed in an eye-popper brown jumper with gigantic aqua polka dots.  She had matching brown eyeglasses with tiny aqua dots and no lenses.  Her hair was rubberbanded in some carrot sprout asymmetrical ponytails.  In her right hand she dangled a tango Barbie by the ankles.  In her left hand she dangled an upside-down Ken wearing nothing but a smile.  Let's allow kids to be oblivious for a few more years.

Happy Valentines Day!


© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/13/11

What is this peculiar sensation?

Mark the calendar!  I feel relaxed.  Wow.  I can't remember when last I had this feeling.  How can I replicate it, bottle it, maybe sell it like a magic elixir on eBay?  What is the recipe for feeling this relaxed? 

  • No spa massages or lovers' trysts were involved.  I did spend five dollars in quarters to experience the good vibrations of the self-serve car-wash wand and brush.  The Buick Skylark may have had an orgasm.  Just removing the petrified bird poop and snow slush to achieve a clean car was a peak experience.  Engaging in work that makes an obvious difference is very satisfying.

  • Relaxation does not derive from an absence of labor.  I worked at the library Saturday reading book reviews and taking photos to document the appearance of the building prior to the upcoming renovation and expansion.  Work, yes.  On the clock, yes.  Delightful, completely.  I took 141 photos to document the building from every angle possible without a helicopter.  Then I spent four hours in intense Photoshopping to edit the photos down to sixty useful records.  All time spent "in the flow" to the best I can understand Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

  • Sunshine and sixty-something temperatures helped enormously.  Pulled on Janie's big boots for a second effort at creek clean-up, wading in the shallow water and collecting ugly litter.  Hauled three bags full to the dumpster.  Wade in the water...

  • Tried something new without allergy anxiety.  Just pulled the onions out of my lamb kebab sandwich from Fadi's

  • Took Dad an old-fashioned root beer float from Sonic.  Tasted so good, but Dad's coughing and choking informed me that was his last root beer float.  We laughed together and shared family news.  He was completely sharp and in the moment.  Then suddenly he was talking about the little boys playing leapfrog behind his bed.

  • Spotted Eeyore the tailless squirrel near my condo.  Could there be a whole gang of tailless squirrels?  How big can Eeyore's territory be?  Don't get around much anymore.

  • Fooled around with the design for this blog.  This was play without expectations for an outcome.  In the big scheme of things it doesn't matter if there's an Itty Bitty Blog Roll. 

  • Walked, vented, and lunched with a friend. Ritual and habit bring their own stress reduction.

  • None of my problems are solved, but it's O.K.  All is good.


© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/12/11

Cyclamen Built for Two



Cycla-men and women, boys and squirrels, squids and grown-ups, please join me in this Gay Nineties sing-a-long to celebrate a very successful art class project.  When it works it really works!

This whole project has been a case of serendrippitynose snortcicles provoked by our adverse weather conditions of historic proportions the past two weeks. Consecutive Wednesday art classes were wiped out by ice storms, but my need to teach a make-up day was pricked by financial and Valentine imperatives.

Inspiration is such a divine and playful phenomenon of unlikely intersections. Piling on the riches is unlikely to work unless the process is also constricted by finances, available materials, limited color palette. Climb a stepstool. Scrounge through a musty old carton of used giftwrap. Find inherited table linens in the bottom of the ironing basket. Imagine the lightest breeze from the window moving great grandmother's floral curtains. Discover a garden center gift certificate in the bottom of your purse. Think pink.

 
Glue sticks, glue sticks
Twirl up a bit, not too
Spread a bit on paper
But don't try that on tissue


"A Bicycle Build for Two: Daisy, Daisy."



 Daisy, Daisy,

Give me your answer do! 

I'm half crazy,

All for the love of you!
 It won't be a stylish marriage,
I can't afford a carriage
But you'll look sweet upon the seat

Of a bicycle built for two.

Let go of the outcome. Embrace your mortality. Fall off the bicycle and get back on.


© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/11/11

Water Show and Tell--Command Performance

Melt.  Observation, prayer, command. 


The snow melted Saturday in the bright sunshine, and the creek filled with rushing water.  

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/10/11

A flock of yellow Post-It passwords

My file folder of user names and passwords threatens to burst open telling tales and flying away to roost on a power line near the Chevron station.  My life list of bird sightings is unrealized.  A stack of receipts are unrecorded.  My collection of opera performances and libraries is lacking updates.  The spreadsheet of Dad's falls, injuries, mood swings, and haircuts is current for the moment. We will be so carefree in the bosom of technology, each of us creating our own story and beaming it up, Scottie.  Some folks would like each of us to have our medical history on a little electronic chip embedded perhaps under a layer of our skin.  My history of mental states and journeys might be found instead in the tiny chip of electronic haiku known as passwords.  Case sensitive.  Letters.  Numbers.  No punctuation or symbols.  Changed frequently for added security.  Scrawled on Post-Its for quick records.  Stuffed in the file for aggravated access.  Every few days either creating or reinventing a user name or password.  What sort of autobiography in very short poetry would they write if they could trim, sculpt, alphabetize, reconfigure a miniscule yet memorable key into my passageways.  I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.


© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

2/9/11

Water Show & Tell

  The kindergarten student brought a half empty bottle of water to school Monday for show and tell.  It's common for a student to grab whatever is rolling around in the backseat of the car on exiting the vehicle with the vague intent to show and tell that object.  Usually these objects are coloring books, Hot Wheels cars, Legos, or stuffed unicorns with irridescent manes.
With raised eyebrows I asked what the student intended to tell about the water bottle.  He had a plan to explain the importance of drinking water.  "Alright, General Ripper," I thought, "be sure to mention purity of essence and precious bodily fluids."

  Having sneered at the concept, I find myself doing the exact same thing. Don't you just hate when that happens?  For the past week I've been fascinated with water as it changes between vapor, liquid, and solid. I just can't take enough photos of freezing water and ice.
 
The ice formed in rings around rocks in the creek.
 Green ice is creekbed moss through the ice.   
Pebble ice might have formed where melt from the roof splashed on the patio.

 See the ice bead at the end of the twig at the lower left corner?  It sparkled through the window like a giant diamond or a blown glass rod.




Some globes of ice acted as magnifying glasses in the leaf litter, or formed fabulous ruffles.
 Mentally I spent part of my day in a cave.  The better part was spent pondering geologic formations and this most common rock.
 

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

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