Harold and the Purple Crayon

No purple Christmas lights to be found at Walmart yesterday.  I've always been a blue light person, but I'm on a rare purple tear.  Nabbed a roll of purple foil gift wrap for the Purplopolis.

Inspired by Harold, all my art classes are working toward a low relief paper sculpture aka 3-D mural of a purple city.  Exactly what the final product will be is unclear, but we are collaborating big time. The goal is to contribute to and recognize a group effort.

The youngest preschoolers are learning "purple" and maybe the recipe of red + blue.  We also made inside-outside houses.  Best of all, according to the kids, was adding brads for doorknobs and then going all group hysteria "ding-dong doorbell".

Pre-K kids are working on folding and cutting, and glue stick protocol. The elementary students are doing printmaking. Shaving cream marbling is on deck for next Wednesday.

Reentry to normal life after the wonderful Thanksgiving family gathering in Oregon has been rough. Most of the family stayed in a 1901 Craftsman vacation rental house in Salem. The house brought back many memories of chilly visits to Pierce, Nebraska.

Grandma's house was a bit younger than the rental, but the floor squeaks were the same. After a big meal of Grandma's cooking, Dad and I would walk all around town. I would soak up his stories of growing up in Pierce in the Depression, and of all the characters who lived in the little old houses.  I'm so thankful for these vivid memories crowding our recollections of Dad's final months.

© 2012 Nancy L. Ruder


Please help t.p. tiger relief fund

Standing almost still running last week's art through the laminator. Must write school newsletter art update.

How to explain what the kids do in art class, and why it is important?

How to explain that adding vocabulary to the physical act of perceiving changes looking into seeing?

That tickling the brain with funny words can make kids more curious about the world around them?

That just learning to put on their own art smock is a major accomplishment?

That tigers have stripes, leopards have spots, kids wear plaid shorts, and lions don't?

That if your eye looks down through the toilet paper tube you will see the tiger finger puppet and a spiral?

But if you squint a bit and use your imagination you might find yourself in a dark cave with your Neanderthal boyfriend while a saber tooth tiger paces outside?  Have a Clan of the Cave Bear moment maybe...

Standing almost still I got no closer to the newsletter deadline, but I ran the Neanderthal boyfriend and the finger puppet through the laminator. Turned out a bit lumpy, but I think it will hold.

Tyger tyger, burning bright,
in the forests of the night;  
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

© 2012 Nancy L. Ruder


Thanksgiving with Dad and butterflies

Snout butterfly on White Mistflower. Heard Sanctuary.
There coulda been a rumble on the crowded white mistflower today, but the skippers were too hippy dippy blissed-out to battle the snouts for turf.  All kinds of snouts, skippers, painted ladies, queens, assorted bees, and flashy-dresser webworm moths were imbibing, snorting, and pollinating with scandalous abandon. I haven't seen such a traffic jam since the wheelchair gridlock at the nursing home.

Been thinking of my dad, Howie, as we approach a first Thanksgiving without him.  For several Thanksgivings he was way, way out there, completely unfiltered, and uninhibited in his speech, and unable to control mucus secretions while eating. Dad in his holiday attire of terry bib, plaid flannel pjs and Depends ramming his wheelchair into the wall over and over took much of the enjoyment from the holiday meal.

Just in the last couple weeks I've been able to replace some visual memories of Howie in his protracted, degrading decline with better memories and visual associations.

Watching the common checkered skipper and the checkerspot butterfly sucking down smoothies while wearing their plaid jammies, I got a momentary flash of peace about Howie and my seasons as his "responsible party".
Common checkered skipper.

Party snouts.

Queen butterfly.

Ballerina spider.

Ailanthus webworm moth.
Catching butterflies was a family hobby Dad encouraged.  It probably started as a way for me to earn a Camp Fire bead.  Dad bought one net, then immediately made several others.  Our backyard was a good starting point, but Dad was happy to take us places where we could run around, up and down hills, waving nets, getting worn out, and occasionally catching butterflies. My perfectionist mother mastered the mounting of specimens. We studied field guides to identify our catches.

Now I just catch butterflies with my camera, but I still get exercise and fresh air. I get out the field guide to identify my sightings for Dad.

The flashy dressing webworm moth looks like a skinny beetle, since it rolls its wings around it.  I never did get a photo of one in flight. These are diurnal and good pollinators, not the evil fall webworms Dad used to cuss.

The very fragrant White Mistflower causing all the ruckus is a Texas native.  Ageratina havanensis is tolerant of drought and rocky soil. It blooms from mid-October until very cold weather

© 2012 Nancy L. Ruder


Wasted Miata and the Olympic tomato bobsled team

Close your eyes. Take a deep, cleansing breath and let it out slowly like a roll of toilet paper smoothly  and gently unrolling out to infinity.

You are feeling relaxed and refreshed, and ready for your preschool Spanish lesson.

--"Ms. Nancy, I wasted the toilet paper."

Thank you, my child for being honest. Just don't use so much next time or you will clog the potty.

In the background I hear the beginning wail of a kiddie stuck on the toilet seat with no t.p. This is not the best moment for a vocabulary correction. That moment would be after the poop Sherpa replaces the t.p. and guides the stranded mountain-climber off the porcelain peak.   

"Wasted" is not quite the same as "used the last of the roll".

--"Wasted" has a big load of guilt attached. You/I have wasted talents, time, effort, resources and abilities. You/I are not "wasted" in the sense of intoxicated.  Well, maybe you.

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Just don't kick the gravel on the playground...

--Getting out to the playground is like moving a caravan of cats.  The children must locate their partners and hold hands.  Then they must walk in a line out of the classroom, down the hall, and into the school lobby.  The first pair of students, unless they have gotten a whole lotta nose goobies on their fingers during this trek, get to hold the door open.  The children thank them for holding the door open.  They respond with, "You're welcome," unless someone decides to go rogue espanol.  

--Thank you is "gracias".  You're welcome is "de nada".  The preschoolers are vague on which is which and the pronunciation of both.  That leads to long lines of polite kiddies saying:


In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines
In two straight lines they broke their bread
And brushed their teeth and went to bed.
They left the house at half past nine
In two straight lines in rain or shine-
The smallest one was Madeline.

--Which leads to the mystery of the tomato bobsled team. These perfectly spaced and sized cherry tomatoes were somehow grown in one long vine that folded over to make a double layer. 

It's like the dwarfs are in the glass coffin instead of Snow White. She's on the outside singing "Someday my Miata will come".

© 2012 Nancy L. Ruder


Let there be light...

... light green glass and glue sticks, that is.

Sunlight shines through the overlapping big jars and little jars, square, round, and hexagonal jars.

Which jar should hold the spaghetti?

Let the glass jars be tinged cool green. I've been working on this art class presentation since late September.  Showed the beta version slideshow to the classes today, and now I know how to edit it for future slideshows and a book.

So here, O is for observation, not Obama.  But Obama is a-Okay-dokie, too.  This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, so let the sunshine in.  Throw the curtains in the washer and dust the mini-blinds.

Which jar should contain my
not-quite-yet-lost marbles?

© 2012 Nancy L. Ruder


The tenor takes a nap

Last Sunday the tenor stomped around swooshing his cape.  Why Aida and Amneris thought Radames was worth getting all hot and bothered about escaped me.

Took this photo of a snoozing caped moth at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens yesterday.  I couldn't tell if it was a Liberace moth with Elvis hair or an Elvis moth with a Liberace cape.

No guides online for pronouncing Tolype velleda, but it must sound like a good name for either an opera character or an undecided Ohio chihuahua.

Tolype velleda (Stoll, 1791)

Who was Stoll?  What was he doing in 1791?  Did he fall asleep during the opera?

© 2012 Nancy L. Ruder

Halloween census

My tallies have not added up correctly.  I'm afraid there might be hanging chads in my count of the preschool costumes, or maybe my memory is failing.  I'm sad to report that Norton the elderly class rabbit did not get out of his cage to be in the class Halloween photo this year.

1 Bat Girl
1 Bat Man
1 blueberry fairy
1 doctor
5 fairy/butterfly/tutu girls (1 with fever and diarrhea)
1 great pumpkin t shirt
1 Incredible Hulk
1 Jedi knight
1 Minnie Mouse
1 nonparticipant
1 peacock
1 pirate
1 princess
1 royal princess
1 Superman
1 Spiderman
1 tiger in Pull-Ups
1 vaguely pink sparkle cowgirl fairy with wand
This does not equal 24 children

The elementary class only has nine students at the moment.  Those kids are always asked to be something or someone "real".  Andy and the Statue deserved applause.

Dr. Who
Maria Tallchief
1 ballet teacher
Andy Warhol
The Statue of Liberty
Amelia Earhart
Tim Burton
Queen Elizabeth
Julia Child


Most things change, but the popularity of Amelia Earhart for kids needing to read a biography or dress up as somebody famous has stayed the same.  The popularity of ironing has continued to plummet.


*Ninja turtle + 20 years or so at the Statue of Liberty.

**The bat is still without power in New Jersey.  Junior Birdman is now a daddy.  I wonder what ever became of the pilot's white scarf!

© 2012 Nancy L. Ruder


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